Thursday, July 23, 2009

Restoration of Quito Culture

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend about the cleaning up of the city of Quito (San Francisco de Quito) in Ecuador, which has, in the recent past, been known for the danger lurking in its streets, especially after dark. According to the article, Quito is quickly gaining the attention of more tourists as it re-orients itself to its rich cultural history and establishes a safer environment for visitors and natives alike.

The city was founded in 1534 when the Spanish conquered the Quitu tribe. Almost immediately, the victors began the construction of the oldest Catholic Church in the city, Iglesia de San Francisco, and planted the seeds of Catholicism there, allowing for the establishment of the Diocese of Quito in 1545 and the archdiocese in 1849. The city was a colony of Spain up until the early 19th century, when it finally gained independence from Spain in 1822 and was annexed to the Republic of Gran Columbia. In 1830, it was named the capital city of the Republic of Ecuador, and during its independent existence has been the site of numerous periods of civil discord.

Now in an effort to attract more tuorists, the city is taking advantage of its cultural gems, such as the Church of San Francisco (Iglesia de San Francisco) that is currently undergoing a renovation, and officials are working to drive out the rampant prostitution and theft. The Journal article did not report on any activity of the Church in pushing these reforms, but I hope that the renovation of the oldest church is more than just a facelift for the building and instead also indicates a commitment to the continual rejuvenation of the faith life among the Ecuadorian people. True cultural revival of the city would be impossible if such an element were to be neglected!

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