On 16th February 1921 the Diocese of Alajuela was erected, and Fr. Antonio del Carmen Monestel y Zamora was appointed as its first Bishop. On the occasion of this religious commemoration, a bastion of local identity, the ecclesiastical authorities of the community, with the support of social actors among its parishioners, joined forces to carry out many sacred and cultural activities. Precisely, on the latter, they coordinated with the Juan Santamaría Historical and Cultural Museum (MHCJS), the realization of two commemorative exhibitions.
The opening of these commemorative exhibitions coincides with the reopening of the MHCJS, which had to close its doors at the end of March 2020 due to compliance with the health measures of social distancing, issued by the Ministry of Public Health, in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The formal presentation of the exhibitions to the public will take place on Tuesday 19 January 2021, at 10 a.m., in the Juan Rafael Mora Porras Auditorium of the MHCJS. Seating is limited, in accordance with current health recommendations, so those attending should confirm their participation by calling: 2441-4775, ext. 101 or by emailing: [email protected]
The first exhibition will be offered in the Sala Luis Alberto Salas Corrales of the MHCJS, and proposes a historical synthesis of the Diocese of Alajuela. Portraits of the seven bishops of the congregation, from 1921 to 2021, will be shown, as well as costumes, relics and other elements of interest.
On the other hand, the second exhibition, available in the José María Cañas Escamilla Rooms, which is also located in the MHCJS, consists of a meticulous selection of religious art works, created by the Alajuela sculptor and image maker, Manuel “Lico” Rodríguez Cruz (1833-1901). Both exhibitions will be available to the public at the MHCJS between 19 January and 14 March 2021.
“This will be an important event of celebration; the largest outside of the religious activities that we will carry out,” said Monsignor Bartolomé Buigues Oller, current Diocesan Bishop of Alajuela, in relation to the exhibitions that will be opened to the public.
For her part, María Elena Masís, Director of the MHCJS, stated that “among the most notable activities of human ingenuity are the fine arts, and among them religious art and its summit, which is ‘sacred art’. With these two exhibitions, and after 10 months of temporary closure due to the impact produced by the COVID-19, the Juan Santamaría Historical and Cultural Museum will open its doors to join the celebration of the centenary of the Diocese of Alajuela. Its main objective: to show the enormous and valuable cultural legacy of the Alajuela sculptor Manuel ‘Lico’ Rodríguez”.
“This is the first time that more than 50 sculptures of this artist, who lived and carved them from 1850 to 1901, the year he died, are shown in a Costa Rican Museum. With it we want, not only to make them known, but to emphasize this rich legacy with a view to its protection and safeguard. The MHCJS, in line with UNESCO and the International Council of Museums, among other bodies that care for heritage, calls for the importance of protecting heritage objects that reflect the history and beliefs of peoples,” the director added.
Masís expressed his gratitude to the current bishop of Alajuela, Monsignor Bartolomé Buigues Oller, and to all the priests, parish priests and parishioners of more than ten temples in Alajuela, who lent their works to the MHCJS, to celebrate such an important event.