Wednesday, April 8, 2009

La Nueva Catedral, Managua, Nicaragua


In 1972, a major earthquake destroyed 90% of the city, along with the old cathedral in downtown Managua. Since the church’s structure was thought beyond repair, a new cathedral was begun in 1991 and completed in just two years.

Visitors approach La Nueva Catedral (the new cathedral) along a paved street that cuts through a field of tall palm trees. Here and there street vendors peddle snacks and chilled soft drinks from plastic coolers. The avenue abruptly ends at the lip of a broad grey block plaza in front of the church’s austere low facade.

Its architectural style is modern, with a roof composed of 63 concrete cupolas, each representing the individual dioceses in the country. Some locals call it “La Chinchona” because the many cupolas look like so many “chichas” - Spanish slang for breasts.

Doors and windows are open air, allowing birds and breezes to enter freely. It’s not unusual to see pigeons fly from their perches on a narrow ledge atop concrete pilasters to racks of pigeonholes near the choir loft.

La Nueva Catedral cost $4.5 million dollars. An American tycoon provided financing and construction supervision. Having built his billion-dollar Domino’s Pizza chain, founder Tom Monaghan experienced a religious awaking after reading “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia series. The inspired Monaghan took a two-year sabbatical from Dominos, during which time he funded and supervised the construction of La Nueva Catedral.

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