The Jesuit World

The Jesuit missions in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, come to visit.

The Jesuit missions in America, also called reductions, were the indigenous settlements organized and administered by the Jesuit priests in the New World, as part of their work of a civilizing and evangelizing nature. The main objective of the Jesuit missions was to create a society with the benefits and qualities of European Christian society, but exempt from its vices and evils. These missions were founded by the Jesuits throughout colonial America and, according to Manuel Marzal, synthesizing the vision of other scholars, constitute one of the most remarkable utopias in history. (Source: Wikipedia)

Due to the wars, many were totally destroyed, others have few traces, most already absorbed in the village or city that was built on top.

Here is a description of what is still possible to visit:

PARAGUAY

San Ignacio Guaz√ļ
Called Guaz√ļ (Grande) to distinguish it as being older than San In√°cio Min√≠ (currently in Argentina).¬†This reduction was founded in 1609-1610, at the invitation of the famous chief Arapizand√ļ and moved permanently to the current place in 1677.¬†This city lies on the road between Asunci√≥n and Encarnaci√≥n – Paraguay.¬†In the main square of the city there is a statue of Blessed Roque Gonz√°lez, indicating the importance of this priest in the development of San Ignacio Guaz√ļ.

Santa Maria de Fé (Saint Mary of Faith)
It was founded in 1647 by the French priest Manuel Berthod and named after the famous “Notre Dame de Foy”.
Almost nothing remains of the old mission, since his church was destroyed by fire in 1889.¬†Many of the images and statues survived the fire and can be admired in the current church.¬†The visit is worth the beautiful museum that, like the one in San In√°cio Guaz√ļ, contains several rooms each dedicated to a theme.¬†Statues and images of St. Mary, St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Peter and others.

Santa Rosa
About 150 km from Encarnación, towards Asunción, it was founded in 1698 with families from Santa Maria de Fé. In 1883 the original church was destroyed by the action of fire. On the old church stood the new one that incorporated some pillars of the old to its façade. The most interesting are the intact remains of the original bell tower and the chapel of Our Lady of Loreto. In this chapel you can see the frescoes painted on its walls and a group of sculptures representing the Annunciation, true jewel of the Baroque.
The altar of the present church is ornamented with a side altarpiece of the old church, piece so important that it has become main altar.
As for the urban complex, the square is surrounded by the church and an important number of villas with galleries of thick stone walls and tile ceilings, original layout.

Santiago
Easy access by paved road.¬†Founded in 1651 it was moved in 1669 to the current site.¬†There is almost nothing left of the old mission, except for the very interesting museum that was organized there.¬†Almost a replica of the Museum of San In√°cio Guaz√ļ, has sets of entirely original statues.¬†In the museum, a large window opens splendid views of the set of ruins of the ancient mission which gives the feeling of a journey to that time.

San Cosme and Damian
In 1632 Father Adriano Fornoso founded this mission in Brazilian lands. Changing locations several times was last settled in 1740 at the present site. Despite being one of the least interesting from an architectural point of view, this mission was the main center of astronomical studies in South America, having been organized by Father Buenaventura Suarez who kept in touch with the most important astronomers in Europe, and his work was recognized by them.
Aided by the Indians, Father Suarez built telescopes, quadrants and a sundial that, although rudimentary, provided accurate data. The sundial can be consulted and admired to this day.
The old mission church had one of its parts destroyed by a fire, the other part being subjected to the reconstruction of a new church. Inside this church there are several statues, including one of St. Cosme and Damian, which are worth seeing.

Trinidad
Located about 25 km from Encarnação, towards Ciudad del Este РParaguay, it is one of the most interesting and suggestive ruins of all. Trinidad was founded by Indians who came from the mission of São Carlos, in present-day Argentina. Its main architects were fathers João Batista Prímoli, Milanese and Catalan José Grimau. Not fully completed, this mission would contain one of the largest and most beautiful churches of all missions, according to descriptions of travelers of the time.
After crossing the nave of the old church, we come across the impressive view of the frieze at the top of the altar wall, entirely decorated in the stone itself with a sequence of angels in baroque postures and their instruments. The two doors that give access to the sacristies deserve to be highlighted: the columns of disproportionate capitals, with a triple row of leaves supporting a frieze with two side pillars and a sculptural motif in the center.
One of the sacristies also houses a small museum with local pieces (original colors) and a model of the mission. Must!
During the excavations inside the church were found interesting statues (with the original color) and bones of some missionaries buried there. To the west are the ruins of the tower and a long chapel. The tower, with a quadrangular base, resembles a strong tower and it is not known whether it would be a bell tower, watchtower or both simultaneously. The chapel was safely used while building the main church.
Declared a World Heritage Site in 1993 by UNESCO.

Jesus of Tavarangue
Almost in front of Trinidad, on the opposite side of the main road, is this reduction whose access is by dirt road (8 km), sometimes insurmountable, depending on weather conditions.
This church was not finished due to the expulsion of the Jesuits. Its architectural design was totally different from the others. In Moorish style, unique in all reductions, the three doors of access to the temple are exceptionally beautiful, built in trilobish arches. The ceiling would not be wooden or stone as in others, but mixed style with support walls and large central pillars. Unfortunately, even the ceiling was not finished.
Declared a World Heritage Site in 1993 by UNESCO.

ARGENTINA

San Ignacio Miní
Located about 50 km from the city of Posadas, towards Puerto Iguazu/Foz do Iguaçu, San Ignacio Miní was one of the most prosperous Jesuit missions, being partly restored by the Argentine government.
San Ignacio Min√≠ was founded in 1610 in the Guair√° area, present-day Paran√° State – Brazil (Sete Quedas).¬†Fathers Jos√© Cataldino and Sim√≥n Masseta built this mission along with loreto’s in the vicinity of the Paranapanema River.
In 1631, before the attack of the bandeirantes, Father Antonio Ruiz de Montoya unders undertakes an exodus to save the survivors. With about 12,000 Indians he goes down the Paraná River. After a painful journey, about 4000 surviving Indians manage to reach the banks of the Yabebirí River, a tributary of Paraná, present-day Misiones РArgentina province. Due to the inadequate conditions of the place, they seek a third place where they settle (1695/6), the current ruins of San Ignacio Miní. In 1816, already expelled the Jesuits, General José de Artigas organized his armies and put Andrés Guacurarí, guarani indigenous known as Andresito, in front of one of them. As five reductions of Paraná had been occupied by the Paraguayan armies of Dr. Francia, Andresito, with his Guarani hosts, manages to recover them. Dr. Francia then restarts the attack and determines the total destruction of the missions.
The church, centered on the axis of the great square, characteristic to all missions, was of imposing dimensions. The structure that supported the ceiling was made of long, thick hard wood trunks. The enclosure was divided into three ships. The side walls were about 2 meters wide at the bottom and reduced to one meter at the top. The whole decoration was certainly polychrome wood, painted with strong colors and profusion of gold.
Around the entire mission there were trenches in the form of ditches that protected it from possible attacks. After the visit, there is the museum of considered interest with the local pieces found during the excavations.

The church, centered on the axis of the great square, characteristic to all missions, was of imposing dimensions. The structure that supported the ceiling was made of long, thick hard wood trunks. The enclosure was divided into three ships. The side walls were about 2 meters wide at the bottom and reduced to one meter at the top. The whole decoration was certainly polychrome wood, painted with strong colors and profusion of gold.
Around the entire mission there were trenches in the form of ditches that protected it from possible attacks. After the visit, there is the museum of considered interest with the local pieces found during the excavations.

Loreto and Santa Ana

Located both near San Inácio Miní, they have access by dirt road (3 km). They are in a state of excavation. Due to climate and weather action, very little remains of these reductions. In Loreto was buried Father Ruiz de Montoya, famous in the history of missions. His remains would have been brought from Lima by his beloved Indians and deposited in the church grounds of this reduction; but they were never found.

BRAZIL

Saint Nicholas
Often moved from place, this reduction was first founded in 1626 by Father Roque Gonzales de Santa Cruz. The name of Saint Nicholas was chosen in honor of Father Nicolau Duran Mastrilli.
This mission was hit not only by intense atmospheric phenomena (hurricane in 1684), but also by the attack of bandeirantes who, in 1683, managed to decimate the village and capture 2,000 Indians who would be sold into slavery.
Unfortunately few remains of this mission, contrary to its great past when it was the most populous village with 7751 people and the largest herds of cattle, sheep and horses. In the center of the current city, you can see the remains of the main church, a Jesuit cellar, a fountain and what could be the sewage system, as well as some current houses built with stones taken from the mission.

San Miguel
On the other side of the Uruguay River, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, are the ruins of the “Seven Peoples”.¬†The ruins of S√£o Miguel were partly restored by the Brazilian National Historical and Artistic Heritage Service and are considered the most important of the Riograndense group.¬†The mission of S√£o Miguel, founded in 1687, was one of the most important.¬†His church, designed by the Italian Jesuit Giovanni Primoli, was inaugurated in 1754, after noven years of construction, in which 100 Indians worked daily.¬†It had three ships, five altars and a tower with six bells.
The mission had schools and workshops of goldsmithing, painting, carving, smithy and weaving, with 20 looms.¬†The architect, professor of architecture before becoming a Jesuit, also built several important buildings in Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities.¬†There is also a museum comparable to that of San Ignacio Guaz√ļ and a spectacle of light and sound where you can tell the tragic story of the “Seven Peoples of the Missions”.

Caaró Shrine
Site of the martyrdom of priests Roque Gonzalez and Alonso Rodriguez, murdered by the Indians in ambush in the year 1628.¬†There was built an important Jesuit shrine, located 30 km from S√£o Miguel das Miss√Ķes.¬†It offers unique accommodation (simple rooms with bunk beds) for those who are visiting these important monuments that constitute history.