San Cristóbal hill (Cerro San Cristóbal) rises 300m above Santiago, Chile. On the hill are a park, a zoo, a Japanese garden, and some really great views when it’s not too polluted, but the summit is about that old-time religion, in this case Catholic. Pope John Paul II rode the funicular to the top and gave a mass, in 1987. I rode it last week, along with some French hipster tourists, in the car with the best view, which still has a plaque about John Paul.

I’m not inclined to belief in the supernatural, but if I were, Catholicism would not be my religion of choice; the whole thing seems not only patently unbelievable but more than a little creepy, starting with the sharp-dressing Bavarian at the top; and then there are things like this.

Statue at Cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago

I’m not sure who she is or why she’s here, but the flower in her left hand is real; simultaneously touching and spooky.

I should mention that in my youth my family, where the religion if any was firmly Protestant, formed a firm friendship with a Jesuit priest, Father Guay, an architect who built several universities in poor countries; subsequently appropriated by dictators but the thing was worth doing anyhow. He was an American Midwesterner who loved diagramless crosswords and corn-on-the-cob; probably as excellent an example of the religious life as I shall ever encounter.

Near the top of the minimountain is a chapel.

Interior of the chapel on Cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago

I love churches, and also the music of J.S. Bach, and many other side-effects of the experience of faith, even though that experience is foreign to me; just can’t get around certain habits of thought involving reproducible evidence and Occam’s razor.

At the top of the mountain is an extra-large graven image of the Virgin Mary, quite a fine thing against this grey sky and I imagine even better with a blue background.

Statue of the virgin at the summit of Cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: David Magda (Nov 10 2010, at 06:46)

Re: Occam’s razor

This concept was originally thought up by a Franciscan friar:'s_razor



From: Millaray (Nov 10 2010, at 13:24)

Hi Tim!

The first statue represents Beata Laura Vicuña. She is not still a saint, but the church is working on it.

I have some kind of phobia with this kind of statues. I remember going to Catholic church at school age and being deeply impressed by the bloody images and the suffering expression of them.

I hope you enjoyed Santiago!


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November 09, 2010
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