Home / South America / Argentina / San Ignacio Mini: spectacular ruins of a Guarani Jesuit mission
San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini..
San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini..

San Ignacio Mini: spectacular ruins of a Guarani Jesuit mission

San Ignacio Miní was one of the many missions founded by the Jesuits in South America in the seventeenth century, they founded some 30 missions in the territory today between the states of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Many ancient ruins of Jesuit missions are in the Argentine state of Missiones, these include the Candelaria, Loreto, Santa Ana, Santa María and finally San Ignacio Mini which is the best preserved of all, its artistic and sculptural details are wonderful and make the mission a symbol of Baroque style known as Guarani. San Ignacio Mini is near the town of Posadas in Argentina.

The first Jesuit mission called San Ignacio was originally founded in 1610 by fathers Jose Cataldino and Simon Masceta in the Guayrá region, together with other reductions. In 1631 the missions were devasted by the “bandeirantes” (slave hunters), only San Ignacio and Nuestra Señora de Loreto were the only ones which resisted the siege. After these attacks, in 1632 the towns were moved near the Yabebirí Stream in the present province of Misiones (Argentina). The real mission of San Ignacio Miní was established in 1696 and was destroyed by the Paraguayans in 1817.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini..

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini..

The main building of the mission is its monumental church designed by the Italian Jesuit Giuseppe (José) Brasanelli, the church measuring 74 meters long and 24 meters wide, has red sandstone walls 2 meters thick, and floor with ceramic tiles. Overlooking the main square of the settlement, decorated like the rest of the mission by Guaraní artists, the church, the buildings of the kitchen, the dining room, the school and a district with the Jesuit cemetery and more than 200 houses of the Guarani Indians. At the height of the development of the mission, in 1733, the population held in San Ignacio Mini reached 4,000 people.

Since the defeat inflicted by the militias of the missionaries to the Bandeirantes of Sao Paulo, in Mbororé, along the Rio Uruguay, in March 1641, the Jesuit reducciones had a constant growth and expansion that lasted until 1732, when the population of the 30 existing missions reached remarkable figure of 141,182 inhabitants, only eight years later, in 1740, the population had dropped to 73,910 residents due to epidemics.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini..

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini..

The ruins of San Ignacio now house a museum about the history of the mission and that of the Guarani Indians: the Jesuit Museum of San Ignacio Mini (Museo Jesuítico de San Ignacio Miní). Since 1984 San Ignacio Mini, along with other missions (San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor (Argentina), and the ruins of Sao Miguel das Missões (Brazil)) were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage.

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