Which is the most beautiful Catholic church I’ve seen? Even thinking about just the Catholic ones, I couldn’t say. I like to admire churches. I know I have seen many beautiful churches, architecturally beautiful and/or decorated beautifully. After stretching my mind and then going back to check a journal, I will say a Catholic church that made an impression is in Cusco, Peru, the former capital of the Inca Empire.
The Cathedral of Santo Domingo there had a painting of a young Jesus walking with Joseph and a pregnant Mary; the Last Supper picture was the recognizable scene but with a guinea pig on a platter ready to be served for supper; then there was Mary with a snake on her dress and a Black Jesus on a crucifix. The guide said for the Incas, the snake symbolizes wisdom and the color black symbolizes purity. The guide also said the priests allowed these irregularities to attract the locals’ support of the church and noted that in the 1600s, the highlands of Cusco were a far journey from the Inquisition in Lima. (The Inquisition was an ecclesiastical court presiding over alleged noncompliance with Roman Catholic Church canon.)
Juxtapose that rationale with the Inca king’s earlier messenger network. The Incas had a very fast messenger system that ran four miles per hour and switched off every three miles or on the hour; this messenger relay enabled the Inca king to know about all happenings within the reaches of his empire. That makes me think the priests in Cusco brought in sufficient donations. There is no doubt money frequently works to silence grumbling. My guess is that’s how it worked with the Inquisition in Lima.
“My own mind is my own church.” —Thomas Paine