Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará
The Cross of Matará
History and Characteristics
The Matará Cross is one of the oldest crosses found in Argentina, it dates to 1594, approximately one hundred years after the discovery of America. It is a cross carved in wood by a member of the native Matará tribe in Argentina evangelized in the 16th century by the Jesuits missionaries. Made from mistol (a native tree), the Cross is composed of two parts: the vertical piece of wood that measures forty-seven centimeters in length and the horizontal piece that measures seventeen centimeters. They are united by wooden two nails and have been assembled perfectly.
This Cross is a profound symbol of the evangelization of the culture -the specific aim of our Institute- and of the great apostolic work accomplished by the Church in these lands. Through the artistic work with its distinct signs and images, one can encounter an entire message deposited in the Cross. The motifs carved on it perfectly cover the entire surface of the Cross, except for three sectors that do not present a single symbol and represent the fundamental mysteries of our faith: the creation, symbolized by the sun and the moon, the birth of Christ, symbolized by the Star of Bethlehem, the instruments of the Passion of Christ and the Crucifixion, the Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin Mary represented as a Spanish queen, and the flames of purgatory.
This Cross has been assumed as part of our religious habit, considering it a symbol of the evangelization of the culture and manifestation of our total consecration to Christ crucified. Our Institute takes its name from it.
Symbols of the Cross of Matará
We are able to find in the Cross a highly unified vision: both a theological and descriptive account of the Passion of the Lord, as well as a notable artistic expression. The carving also includes the manifestation of an anonymous author giving testimony to the arduous work carried out by the Jesuit missionaries in the region of the Salado River.
The following picture and video will let you know the simbols carved on it and their meaning.