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Iglesia de La Ermita

La Iglesia de La Ermita, Barranco, Lima. Photo by Roddy Scheer.

If you've ever wandered through the quaint Lima district of Barranco, filled with decaying (and increasingly restored!) Republican mansions, then you've probably seen this church. It's to your right as you stand on the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), looking down toward the ocean.

I've only ever known this church as the place where my mother was baptized. What she was doing in Barranco as an infant I don't know, since she grew up poor in Barrios Altos. Unless this was before my scoundrel grandfather left my abuelita and her eight kids. He was a man of means, so the family might have been doing well and living among the "buena gente" at that point in time. (All fodder for a future posting!)

When I first saw it in the late 80s, La Ermita was looking her age. She wore a fading coat of pink. Numerous holes in the roof eposed the cane wattle beneath. I would have guessed that she was slated for demolition, or at least terminal neglect.

But, I'm happy to see that she's been restored. And with a little digging, I found out that there's a mythical story attached to the church.
"Legend has it that many years ago, a group of fishermen were lost in Lima's winter sea mist for several hours. After praying and searching in the dense darkness, they saw a bright, glittering light in the distance. They rowed towards it and were saved. Once on land, they looked for the place where they had seen the light and found a cross. La Ermita was built on that spot."
This story comes from the August 2005 newsletter of ACAP - The American and Canadian Association of Peru.

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