Cathedrals and Loss

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Converting and Losing Everything

By Arianna Atwater 

            In Toledo, Cordoba, as well as Granada we were taken on many different cathedrals. These cathedrals were all so unique and beautiful in their own way. However, the stories behind these cathedrals are what make them so important and impactful on the history of these places. Hearing how everything; the churches, the land, culture was taken from the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims really changed my perspective on my own religion of Catholicism and what it means to me.

The Cathedral on the very first day in Toledo was the one that stood out the most to me. Before even entering the cathedral, walking up the hill you see sets among sets of shackles hanging from the building itself. The tour guide Mario says that it is symbolizes how the people of the town were forced to leave when the Catholics came to take over. Walking into the cathedral where Isabelle and her husband Fernando wanted to be buried but then had later changed their mind and were buried in Granada, you get this sense of power from them, but also the sense of fear from the people who where on this land before them. The hurt, the disappointment and everything that has happened have shaped these people and the way they feel about their history. I was honored that Mario was willing to share the history of Toledo with us and was very honest and insightful about it.

While learning about how different religions and people have lost everything; their land, their religion, their identity, I was able to relate a lot of this to the overthrow of Hawai’i. Although I am very aware, just like the people in Toledo or Granada today, that our land will never be ours again and we are who we are today because of what has happened in the past, our pasts are very similar. The Hawaiian people were very self sustained and independent, considering they were their own sovereign nation. It wasn’t until January of 1778, when Captain Cook arrived and decided that he was going to take over Hawai’i and eventually make it a part of the United States. January 17, 1893 the overthrow of Hawai’i happened. The last queen; Queen Lili’uokalani was imprisoned in her own home, known today as ‘Iolani Palace while Captain Cook and other missionaries took over the land and culture of the Hawaiian people. Hawaiians were forced to stop practicing their culture and start living like “Americans”. Til today, people are still fighting to make Hawai’i a sovereign nation again. People believe that if our ancestors did it, we can do it again. However, I have come to a realization that we deepened too much on tourism for that to happen and there is no way we would be able to sustain ourselves the way we did in the past. Just like places in Spain, Hawaii was ripped of their culture. All we can do now is inform people so that they are aware and can learn from it and appreciate it.  

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