Let’s take a break from the Bahamas for a minute and visit this church in the Spanish countryside.
No, wait, this is still the Bahamas. These are the remains of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, built by the Spanish some time around the late 17th to early 18th century.
I had a few hours with a rental car one morning, and wanted to see some old ruins before returning the car and heading back out to sea. I headed north from Clarence Town and found this church waiting for me on the side of the road about 35 minutes north, in The Bight. It’s not too far from Cape Santa Maria, where the Spanish first landed on this island in October of 1492, a cape named after their flagship. You might have heard about it.
Anyways, half of the roofing frame remained, no doubt replaced after every hurricane over the past few hundred years, probably to never be rebuilt again. I had seen what looked like recent photos of this church, showing the entire roof frame intact, and now half of it lay on the ground. Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island pretty hard. It’s a testament to its construction that this much of the church remains.
I couldn’t find any other information about it, and if I had more time I would have tracked down some locals and inquired about it. The most recent headstone was from the 1980s, and a light fixture hung precariously by one wire from the rafters over the altar. The bulb was shattered on the floor below it, along with piles of wood, nails, and animal feces. Just like the Anglican church in Bennett’s Harbour, this one probably saw use just a few decades ago but has been ravaged by the severe weather that these barrier islands get.
Speaking of bad weather, when I got back to the boat and checked on the weather one last time before heading back out, the forecast changed dramatically and showed 20-25 knot winds and 6-9′ seas coming in from the east over the next week. I need to go east. Looks like I’m not going anywhere for a while. Maybe I’ll get that car back and do some more exploring.
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