La Capilla (colonial chapel) de Belen humbly hides that the very first Mass in the traditional Latin ascended to the heavens from here - where the conquistadores first erected a very large cross. La Vera Cruz temporarily served the purpose as a first place of worship. At least, that's what many people believe.
The controversy comes from records that show older churches in the valley. No one really knows for sure.
Today, it functions as El Belen. Next to Alameda Park, it parks behind the fence on a little hill by the lookout point, El Churro. St. Prisca serves as the parish.
The chapel crumbled in the earthquake of 1868. No one knows if two sites existed.
Nothing in the faulty records indicates the exact spot where war was fought that provoked beheadings.
They mention a hermitage named the Hermitage of Vera Cruz. The indigenous marched in procession here to honor the Passion of the Christ until 1618, when the Augustinians took over. Orders came to return it to its previous owners in 1640.
The building deteriorated from neglect, and in 1694, an order came from the king of Spain to rebuild it under the pastor of St. Prisca. Presumably, it belonged to them.
The retablo with altar transports us to the 18th century.
Prior to this the Archbishop of Quito ordered the Confraternity of Guapulo to reassemble the chapel as a hermitage. The rebuilding materialized from 1694 to 1697.
Again in 1787, the king (of Spain) commanded it rebuilt to its original theme... so much for the hermitage.
Once more, it returned to the Augustinians. The St. Prisca priest angrily filed a legal complaint and burned the title papers.
With its turbulent history, La Capilla de Belen, claiming to be the first colonial chapel where the first Mass of Quito pierced the heavens, marches on as a vital link to its beginnings.
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