Mérida, Yucatán — The Cathedral San Ildefonso de Toledo — popularly known as the Cathedral of Mérida — will undergo a nip, tuck and a gentle scrubbing later this month.
Various restoration projects were announced by the Fr. Manuel Cetina Oscar Vega, rector of the church grounds since May. Interviewed by Sipse in his office, the priest reported that the work will be done in stages according to priorities: waterproofing roofs is first, especially this rainy season.
Lighting will be modernized, with LED lights replacing incandescent bulbs when possible, for greater illumination and reduced power costs.
In addition, the north gate of the cathedral will be repaired where moisture is seeping into the temple walls. The massive crucifix behind the altar, Cristo de la Unidad, will be cleaned. Even interior objects have been affected from smog generated by passing traffic, and the sculpture is no exception.
Unveiled in 1967, the crucifix dominates the altar, measuring 7.67 meters high. The wooden cross is 12 meters wide. It was constructed from a birch tree by Spanish sculptor and painter Ramón Lapayese del Río (1928-1994).
Cetina Vega happens to be an architect by profession and is cooperating with authorities at INAH, which understandably is protective of one of the oldest cathedrals in Latin America and the first to be built on the mainland.
On the site of a former Maya temple, construction here began in 1561 and was completed in 1598 — often using stone from temple knocked down for the church.