On the ruins of jesuits missions

Mission jésuites de Trinidad, Paraguay

Remember the movie The Mission, Robert de Niro, the majestic music of Ennio Morricone and the wonderful landscapes of the tropical forest. This movie which recounts 150 of history about the Jesuit missions comes back to my memory while we visited the ruins of the Jesuit reduction of Trinidad.
Nowadays there are only birds to let this place alive.

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Let´s go back few centuries ago. When Spanish arrived on the American continent they needed workforce. Thus they did not hesitate to reduce iIndigenous to slavery. But after the royal ordinance of Valladolid at the beginning of the 17th century, it was decided to colonise Indians of the Parana (region which extends through Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina) using the force of religion. Jesuits then built reductions, kinds of villages subjected to the Church. During 150 years those reductions lived in total autonomy, with a prosper organization very unique at that time. They had public utility, help for the poor, the death penalty was even abolished. Moreover the entire population was able to read and write.

Porte, réduction jésuite de Trinidad, Paraguay

In the middle of the 18th century European kings decided to expel Jesuits from Sout America because they were becoming too influential. It was the end of the missions. Guaranis lost their lands and went back in the forest.

Now only ruins remains of those reductions. In San Ignacio we could visit the first of them where a little museum shows beautiful wood sculptures with still bright colors.
But the most impressive reduction is the one of Trinidad which is on UNESCO World Heritage list. Buildings are damaged but their greatness and refinement let us understand how they could be so influential on the Guaranis. Everything is well done, even the Indians area.

Réduction jésuite de Trinidad, Paraguay

This was an interesting moment of history who questions about the religious role in the development of Latin America.

2 comments for “On the ruins of jesuits missions”

  1. Sympa les photos !!!

  2. Géniale cette histoire ! C’est même extraordinaire d’imaginer que les Jésuites, qui font tous individuellement voeu de pauvreté, constituent ensemble une société (la Cie de Jésus) qui, jusqu’aux années 1940 et à l’avènement des multinationales, était de très loin la Personne Morale la plus riche du Monde… A l’époque dont vous parlez (le XVIIe siècle) ils étaient en effet propriétaires du Paraguay.
    Votre aventure est décidément passionnante. Je suis de tout coeur avec vous.
    Grosses bises et affectueuses pensées pour vous deux.

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