Rarely does one have the satisfaction of working in the recovery of such an emblematic work as the church of San José de Puerto Rico. This temple, which began construction in 1532 in Spanish times, is the second oldest surviving church in the Americas. The 20th century witnessed the progressive deterioration of the building, which was included by the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation in the list of eleven historic sites in this country most in danger of disappearing. The rehabilitation has been carried out thanks to the management of the San Juan Monuments Board, created and presided over by Ricardo González, the efforts of the Archdiocese and numerous private and public contributions.
The rehabilitation, which has been under the technical direction of architect Jorge Rigau for the last decade, involved great difficulties as it was carried out in a context in which it is not very common for buildings of such age to survive. The church had been repaired throughout its more recent history with cement, which causes serious deterioration due to humidity in old buildings. The first challenge they faced, therefore, was to learn how to make lime and sand mortar, a technique that had been lost in Puerto Rico for many years.
During the long process of rehabilitation, the church of San José revealed some of its secrets. In its vaults and walls, hidden under layers of later repairs, captivating mural paintings were found. Although only partially preserved, they are exceptional in that they are a unique example in Puerto Rico.
The complexity of its restoration was what made the Patronato look for professionals with extensive experience in this type of interventions. This is how they contacted GRANDAwho we took charge of both the restoration of the mural paintings and other works of art preserved in the temple and its illumination.
The preserved mural paintings were made in tempera and oil, and represent various subjects. In the chapel of Santa Rosa de Lima is the Holy Trinity, where Christ appears as the Child Jesus inside a heart shape. In the chapel of the Rosary, occupying the pendentives, are represented some mermaids, with their arms outstretched and carrying bouquets of flowers. Finally, in the arcosolium of the main nave, St. Telmo can be seen.
GRANDA He also restored the main altarpiece, the paintings on canvas of the Trinity and the Visitation and five sculptures. These were those of Saint Joseph, Saint Vincent Ferrer, Saint Rose of Lima, a Ecce Homo and the one known as Cristo de los Ponce. In addition, we were responsible for the lighting project, including the design, manufacture and installation of the luminaires.
The church of St. Joseph of Puerto Rico was re-consecrated on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. Monsignor Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM, Metropolitan Archbishop of San Juan, presided over the solemn celebration. In his speech, he emphasized that two decades ago it was difficult to imagine what the church would look like, but the result of the restoration is solemn and "...".leads to the transcendent", as well as "elevate heart and soul to God". "Here we find the roots of the culture, the roots of the Puerto Rican national identity. It is a place that should touch everyone's heart.".