Credited as being on of the world’s 10 Most Unique Churches, Las Lajas definitely lives up to its claim.
At first, I’ll admit, I was a little unimpressed. But, then again, we approached it from the wrong side. Once we walked around and saw the view of the whole church, I was stunned.
(Click on any of the pictures in this post to see a larger version.)
We woke up from our night sleeping on a rock posing as a bed at Casa Pastoral. They serve breakfast for $2, so Jonathan got some. I wasn’t hungry.
We hurried and ate, and then went to the Basilica. The walking path for getting there starts just steps away from Casa Pastoral.
It’s a rather steep path, lined with plaques thanking the Virgin for her miracles. However, most of the “miracles” are things like “Thank you for receiving my mother in heaven” or “Thank you for my children”.
Apparently, The Vatican recognizes one miracle, but right now I can’t find out what it was. I’ll keep looking though. Read one story here.
For me, the miracle is the church itself.
The wanted to preserve the side of the cliff (where the vision of Mary appeared) and make it the focal point of the church. So, they built the church not into, but adjoining, the rock face.
The altar inside the church is the painting of the virgin that appeared.
It’s built with its back wall being literally the side of a cliff. In other words, they had to build a massive foundation up from a riverbed, and a bridge from the other side to support this beautiful church.
It’s amazing. Words cannot describe what a lot of money and a little religious fervor can do. (St. Paul’s anyone?) Some of the greatest sites in all the world are around because of those two things.
I’ll let some of the pictures speak for themselves…
Jonathan and I spent hours wandering around the grounds, looking at the church from all different angles.
If you’re going to visit Las Lajas, I recommend that you come on Saturday and view the church, and spend the night. Then, on Sunday, interact with all the locals who are there visiting the church and the town.
We went on Sunday and it was extremely crowded with people. We were definitely the only Caucasians there. (Check out the stare I’m getting from this girl.)