Catedral de San Juan Bautista
Catedral de San Juan Bautista (151–153 Calle del Cristo, Old San Juan, 787/722-0861, www.catedralsanjuan.com, Mon.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–noon and 1:30–4 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.–noon; Mass Sat. 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 7 p.m., Sun.–Fri. 12:15 p.m.) holds the distinction of being the second-oldest church in the western hemisphere, the first being Catedral Basilica Menor de Santa in the Dominican Republic.
Catedral de San Juan Bautista was first built of wood and straw in 1521 but was destroyed by hurricanes and rebuilt multiple times. In 1917 the cathedral underwent major restoration and expansion.
The large sanctuary features a marble altar and rows of arches with several side chapels appointed with elaborate statuary primarily depicting Mary and Jesus. In stark contrast is a chapel featuring an enormous contemporary oil painting of a man in a business suit. It was erected in honor of Carlos “Charlie” Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican layman who was beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Catedral de San Juan Bautista is the final resting place of Juan de Ponce de León, whose remains are encased in a marble tomb, and a relic of San Pio, a Roman martyr.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition