Chile and the monument to the Mother of Carmel

In the esplanade between the convent of Mount Carmel and the Stella Maris lodge, a bronze statue of the Virgen of Carmen has been found since 1894, which was a gift from the nation of Chile to its patron and protector the Virgen of Carmel. In fact we read this in the plaque of the monument: «The Republic of Chile consecrates this monument to the Mother of God, Virgin of Carmel, sworn patron of her armies. Special protector of their homes. In testimony of gratitude and love that the nation and its children owe to Her. Hail Mary, full of grace gives the Chileans who venerate you, love of country and love of God». We owe the bronze according to tradition to Admiral Don Jorge Montt, President of Chile, who melted the image of the Virgin with the bronze of the cannons of the Chilean Army.

We have found that the author of this statue was Felipe Moratilla Parreto. In the Archive of the convent of Mount Carmel, we have found several letters dated from 1893 to 1895. By them, we know the name of the sculptor who made the statue of the Virgen of Carmel. He was born in Madrid in 1827 and died in Rome in 1908 or 1909. He was a notable author who established his residence in Rome. Among his most outstanding works are the group «Faith, Hope and Charity» (Madrid, Nacional Museum of Prado), in Carrara marble, signed at the base «F. MORATILLA ROME. 1876».  A version of this group of «the three virtues» crowns the funeral monument to General Bulnes (1799-1866) in the cemetery of Santiago de Chile. The other three of his works that are preserved in the Prado Museum are «A nymph at the fountain» (Marble, 1866); «The Neapolitan fisherman» (Bronze, 1877) and «God bread in the form of Hermes with Bacchus» (Bronze, 1887).

In 1880, he executed the single «Pantheon of the Spanish» in the Monumental Verano cemetery in Rome. He is also the author of the Carrara marble funeral monument to the Popes «Calixto III» and «Alexander VI», relief of 1881 in the church of Holy Mary of Montserrat of the Spanish in Rome. He left his mark on the main altar of the Peruvian cathedral of Arequipa in 1892. He also made a monument to General «José Padilla» in Colombia. In addition, he is especially known in Madrid for the bronze Sphinxes of 1895, which flank the access to the National Archaeological Museum.

The Chilean person who commissioned the monument and that the documentation that we keep in the Archive of  Monte Carmelo appears was Mr. Ramón Ángel Jara Ruz (Santiago, Chile, August 2, 1852-La Serena, March 9, 1917) He studied law in the University of Chile. He was ordained a priest in 1875. Apostolic administrator of the diocese of Valparaíso from March 13, 1894, until his appointment as bishop of the Diocese of Ancud on April 28, 1898. Bishop of La Serena from August 31, 1909 until his death on March 1, 1917. Among his most important work highlights the poem, «Portrait of a Mother».

These two people sculptor (Felipe Moratilla) and benefactor (Mons. Ramón Jara) are the most responsible for the monument of the Virgen of Carmel as a memory and blessing to Chile from the top of Mount Carmel.

Fr.  Óscar I. Aparicio Ahedo, ocd.