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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Iglesia de San Jose–Church of Saint Joseph

Iglesia de San Jose might probably be the church I enjoyed the most while visiting Panama.

The church is quite famous for two reasons.

The first is that the church contains an ornate altar. It is made of  mahogany, carved in the Baroque style, and covered in gold leaf. It is illuminated only by a skylight.


The second reason is that it survived pirate Henry Morgan’s sacking of Casco Viejo (Panamá City’s historical Old Quarter district) in 1671.

According to local legend the priest was given notice of the famous pirates' impending attack. He disguised the altar by painting it black and convinced Morgan that it had already been stolen. Several decades later the paint began to fade and the priceless religious artifact was restored to its lustrous beauty in 1915 by Mr. Donderis.


But truly the church is so much more.


In addition to it’s magnificent altar the church features several ornate altar pieces that line the walls and fill the alcoves. IMG_0490

I was particularly enamoured with the pastel perfection of this Madonna and Child.

IMG_0487The church has very little in the way of modern artificial lighting.


Because of this some of the camera shots seemed to take on a chiaroscuro effect (strong contrasts between light and dark) which somehow only heightened their beauty.


Like the Basilica Santa Maria de la Antigua the Iglesia de San Jose has some wonderful stained glass windows.


This altar piece was interesting but it was the altar below it that captured my fancy…


Have you ever seen a pink altar? I sure haven’t but somehow it works in a delightful way.


The carved statues right above it, that support the altarpiece, were lovely as well.


You can find the church at Avenida A & Calle 8, Casco Viejo (Old Town Panamá).


“Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them.” ~ Exodus 26:1


marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Wow, such a beautiful place

Rita C. said...

Oh Laura, thank you for this and previous post! Seeing the stained glass of St. Rita de Casia was moving (the saint for whom I was named), as was St. Anthony (the name of the church/parish I grew up in and attended grade school) with that gorgeous light shining through the side view photo! Just beautiful. said...

Beautiful church with so many ornate details. So different from the churches I grew up in...

Susan Freeman said...

So beautiful! What a treasure and thank you for sharing this with us.

Big Texas Hugs,
Susan and Bentley

lynn cockrell said...

What a breathtakingly beautiful church, Laura!

nonie everythingsewing said...

Wow!! the pictures are beautiful. Such a peace falls over me as I look at the pictures.
Thank you so much

Vel Criste said...

OMG! Fantastic! I LOVE visiting churches, especially really old ones too when I travel! The detail is just always amazing to me! Thank you for sharing this!