Departamento Paraguari Yaguaron
Iglesia San Buenaventura
If you see just one church in Paraguay (and there many) it should be the Iglesia de San Buenaventura, better known as the Iglesia de Yaguaron. Due to its size and ornate decorations, the church of Yaguaron is one of Paraguay’s most important churches. It is impressive on several levels. The building itself is quite large at seventy meters in length supported by thirty-meter high columns of solid lapacho wood and two-meter thick adobe walls. The interior is decked out with paintings and wood carvings, decorated with richly hued vegetable dyes of reds, greens and blues, and embellished with gold-leaf. Like artwork in most of the country’s Franciscan and Jesuit missions, Yaguaron’s sculptures and paintings were done by the mission’s indigenous, under the supervision of European artists. In this case Portuguese sculptor Jose de Souza Cavadas was responsible for the church’s beauty.
The church is dominated by the large resplendent altar, carved out ofpetereby wood. At the very top is a representation of God holding the world (in the form of a large golden orb) in his hand. Above his head is a triangle representing the Holy Trinity. He is flanked on both sides by archangels Gabriel and Rafael. On both sides of the archangels, stand virgin martyrs with golden palms in their hands which represent peace and justice. Under God is the Holy Spirit in the form of a large dove. To the lower left, is St. Buenaventura, the patron saint of Yaguaron and to the lower right is the archangel Michael with a devil under his foot. The Virgin Mary stands at the foot of the stairs to heaven – each stair represents one of the sacraments necessary in order to gain entrance to heaven. St Peter awaits at the top of the stairs accompanied by two angels. The tabernacle, which holds the Eucharist, is decorated with the Lamb of God and surrounded by cherubs.
Although the altar is clearly the most commanding part of the church, the painted ceiling should not be overlooked. Brightly colored panels are decorated with portraits, each slightly different. The beautifully carved pulpit and confessional boxes are also quite lovely. Through the side door next to the altar you can reach a back room with articles that have not yet been restored but are still quite vivid (again, it is worth looking upwards at the painted ceiling).
Tel: 0533 32 229, Located on the corner where Route 1 curves to the right in the center of Yaguaron (only buses heading to Asuncion go down this road), daily 6am-11am, 1pm-5pm. Sr. Antolin Aleman who is happy to give tours for a donation to the church. Contact him if the church is closed at 0533 232 321 (his neighbor’s land line) or 0982 267 978. He lives at 568 Carmelo Peralta and Mscl Estigarribia (the street the back of the church faces). Tours are also available through COTUR (see Pypore) Sidebar: In 2001 Sr. Antolin Aleman, saved the church from a fire that started when a lightning bolt caused a short circuit which made a fluorescent bulb near the choir balcony catch fire.
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