…Continues from: THE OLD NEIGHBOURHOODS OF MÉRIDA: SAN JUAN
Go to the first article of the series: THE OLD NEIGHBOURHOODS OF MÉRIDA
By Gonzalo Navarrete Muñoz
Translation by Mary Maas
In a historical novel by don Eligio Ancono Castillo the alleys of the colonial neighborhood of San Sebastián are described. The suburb was presided over by the church built in devotion to Our Lady of the Assumption. Originally it was a small and modest church; later, with donations of various neighbors, the church would be rebuilt.
Finally, in 1906, there was an expansion that transformed the old church. The first construction was finished in the times in which don Arturo O’Neill y O’Kelly governed Yucatán.
A little known legend exists about San Sebastián: a well-off and charitable resident of the city in the 18th century was don Juan Esteban Quijano. One day don Juan was told that there was a lady asking to be received. Señor Quijano agreed to receive her and on doing so was greatly impressed — although the lady was dressed in an impoverished manner, she had an extraordinary beauty and dignity.
The lady explained the reason for her visit: she knew that don Juan was a very charitable man and asked that he rebuild her hut, which scarcely covered her from the sun and the rain; the lady also explained to señor Quijano that her neighbours were very poor and unhappy people, and could not help her. In her plea, the lady promised don Juan Esteban that God would repay him for the benefits that he made. Don Juan asked about the location of the house, and the lady gave the reference point of the southwest of San Sebastián. The gentleman asked for a sign to identify the humble dwelling of the lady and she responded that he would discover her by a beam from the sun. When don Juan Esteban visited San Sebastián he located the humble chapel as the reference given by the lady and upon entering, a ray of sun illuminated the face of a statue of the Virgin, which was the face of the lady who he had received. So then, Our Lady of San Sebastián is, perhaps, the Virgin par excellence of Yucatán.
Go to the next article: THE OLD NEIGHBOURHOODS OF MÉRIDA: THE HERMITAGE OF SANTA ISABEL (Tomorrow)