Iglesia de la Merced

Church in Lima
Agnes Rivera

The first Latin Mass in Lima was held in 1534 on a small patch of land now marked by the Iglesia de la Merced. Originally built in 1541, it was rebuilt several times over the course of the next two centuries. Most of today’s structure dates to the 18th century. The most striking feature is the imposing granite facade, carved in the churrigueresque manner (a highly ornate style popular during the late Spanish baroque period).

Inside, the nave is lined with more than two dozen magnificent baroque and Renaissance-style altars, some carved entirely out of mahogany. To the right as you enter is a large silver cross that once belonged to Father Pedro Urraca (1583–1657), renowned for having had a vision of the Virgin. This is a place of pilgrimage for Peruvian worshippers, who come to place a hand on the cross and pray for miracles.