Sunday, November 10, 2013

Iglesia de San Felipe Church

Iglesia de San Felip Church
Portobelo, Panama

"Portobelo is a port city in Colón ProvincePanama. It is located on the northern part of the Isthmus of Panama and has a deep natural harbor. Today, Portobelo is a sleepy city with a population of fewer than 3,000. In 1980 the ruins of the Spanish colonial fortifications, along with nearby Fort San Lorenzo, were declared a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site.

"Legend has it that Christopher Columbus originally named the port "Puerto Bello", meaning "Beautiful Port", in 1502.[2]It is also said that after Francis Drake died of dysentery in 1596 at sea, he was buried in a lead coffin near Portobelo Bay." (Link 2.)

"The large white church at Portobelo is the Iglesia de San Felipe, which is still in use. It dates from 1814, but its tower wasn’t completed until 1945. It’s famous as the home of the life-sized effigy of the Nazareno of Portobelo, better known as the Black Christ. The effigy, depicting Christ carrying the cross, normally resides on a podium to the left of the altar, but it is brought out to the center of the church for the Black Christ Festival, by far Portobelo’s biggest event. The handsome altar of the church is adorned with gold images depicting various emblems of the crucifixion, including nails, instruments of torture, and the dice the Roman soldiers cast for Christ’s robe. Small wooden carvings ringing the walls depict the stages of the cross.


"Behind this church is the recently renovated Iglesia de San Juan de Dios, home to the new Museo del Cristo Negro de Portobelo, which now displays 63 of the robes donated by Panamanians for the festival, some of which are more than 100 years old. 
Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

"Since the 17th century, Portobelo has been the home of the Cristo Negro de Portobelo - the Black Christ of Portobelo. There are several explanations for the presence of this life size figure of a black Christ in the village. Each story has three parts - the arrival of the statue, the refusal of the statue to leave the village, and its veneration. Regardless of the version, however, all of the stories conclude that the statue is responsible for miraculous deeds in the lives of his devotees.
The Black Christ
(On left side of Chancel)

"Nobody knows exactly how or when the Black Christ (El Cristo Negro) arrived in the tiny community of Portobelo on Panama’s Caribbean coast. Some put the date at around 1658. But there are so many stories of miracles associated with the Black Christ, that tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the Church every October 21.

"The popular name, The Black Christ, is attributed to U.S. servicemen shortly after the Second World War. Some 500 arrived in a ship to celebrate the October festival. One witness of that particular day says that many of the U.S. visitors were so caught up in the emotional fervor that they began to shout “Viva El Cristo Negro!” The name stuck everywhere except in Portobelo. A more familiar name is simply The Saint. (Link 1.)
Nuestra Senora De La Merced
(At right side of Chancel)

(On left wall of Church)

Photos: Taken in October 2013 by SW. 
Link 1:
Link 2:,_Col%C3%B3n


God, be with the persecuted Christians through out the world. Amen

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