San Pedro Claver Church – Cartagena, Colombia

To me there are two places were the history of oppression and unfairness come alive in what today are seemingly idyllic places. The first is San Juan, Puerto Rico’s,  Old San Juan where practically a complete island of indigenous people perished building fortifications and mining for gold as witnessed in the magnificent Morro castle and its beautiful streets and buildings. The second is Cartagena, Colombia. I am personally connected to both, San Juan by birth and Cartagena by my wife who is from 3 hours south by bus. I first visited Cartagena in 2006 and shot the images from this set.

This set was taken at San Pedro Claver Church in the heart of the historic district of Cartagena. The history of it might as well be written in blood. Cartagena was the capital of slave trading in the New Spain and a lot the slaves were bought in to work the gold and silver mining that was plundered and taken to Europe. The church itself was built between 1584 and 1622 and much of what is there today are upgrades from several hundreds of years of work. It gives you the feel that you are participating in history. The church is now named for San Pedro Claver, a Catalonian priest who’s life calling was to help an nurture the slaves. He did not support slavery and was against it. He personally baptized 300,000 in 40 years of ministry and died a forgotten an abandoned man being abused by a slave he had himself freed. He walked around the halls and lived there for 40 years something that to me is amazing. Today his bones are displayed under an altar in the sanctuary of the church and Colombia has a very rich African heritage that proudly recognizes the sacrifices that he did for them.