Through The Lens, Trinidad & Tobago

San Jose de Oruna

April 25, 2005

San Jose de Oruna

The evening sun lights up the facade of the Trinidad's oldest church, the Catholic church in St. Joseph. Nestled in the foothills of the Northern Range, St. Joseph was Trinidad's first capital, established in 1592 by Antonio de Berrio, the Spanish governor of the island. It was then christened San José de Oruña and the original church was one of the first four buildings constructed. The site for the church was chosen on May 15th, 1592.

Though the current building was constructed in 1815, it stands on the site of the original structure. Previous buildings were likely burnt during various raids by British and Dutch forces in 1595 and 1649.

The most interesting tale of this church involves an Amerindian uprising known as the “Arena Massacre” in 1699 during which the Governor and several priests were murdered by rebelling natives. The bodies of the priests were interred beneath the floor of the church.

These bones, and many others, were unearthed in 1966 during restoration work on the church floor.

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