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.
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.
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.