Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/125

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119
A MAGNIFICENT ALTAR.

and gold. From above the huge capital of each rises a beautiful arch, which seems so light and airy, as to make it impossible to believe that it is built of solid stone, and weighs hundreds on hundreds of tons. The grand dome, which without is covered with beautiful glazed tiles of different colors, laid in mosaic, is painted within in fresco, in the most florid but highly artistic style. A narrow gallery of bronze metal richly gilded, runs around the entire building, on a level with the capitals of the pillars which support the roof. Under the great dome is the grand organ, and arranged in a semi-circle behind the choir, the twenty-four seats for the Bishop and Canons. The choir is as superb as gilding and carving can make it.

A few years since, this Cathedral was struck by lightning, and two of the organists were killed. In a vault below the pavement of the Cathedral, the dead Bishops and Priests have been accumulating for centuries. Under the great dome, in front of the choir, they are now erecting a magnificent altar, some thirty feet in height, of white marble and metal, gilded and burnished, which was imported from Rome at a cost of fifty-thousand dollars, and hauled—Heaven knows how—over the terrible, and, as we found them, almost impassable roads, all the way from Vera Cruz to Guadalajara. Several of the blocks are immensely heavy, one I should judge, weighing from ten to twenty tons, and the task of transporting them must have been, indeed, herculean.

Around the walls hang pictures of great age; and in one of the rooms back of the altar we saw a collection of life-sized statues of saints, apostles, and martyrs, done in wood, and covered with some kind of flesh