There is a very special place in Chascomús which is worth a visit beyond any religion practice: the Black Chapel.
We are not used to hearing about a distinctive chapel much the less rumors on religious celebrations or practices held by African people who brought their worship to our country. This is the reason why the spirit inside the Black Chapel is still alive.
In the City of Chascomús
, the African community settled down in the early 18th century and introduced the candombe
(Afro-Latin American musical style) to the town. This African influence is not only reflected on the façades of some houses, but also on this little sanctuary appealing visitors to come in and explore. Long Ago, in the Tambor Neighborhood
The location where the Black Chapel stands today is not the original one, since black people used to gather in the present neighborhood of Tambor
(which stands for “Drum” in Spanish) near the historic quarter. In 1861, the Municipality of Chascomús delivered the piece of land where the church was later erected.
Today the little chapel is still a prayer room for believers, no matter what they believe in. At first glance, we were charmed by the humble simplicity of the place: it keeps its baked clay floor, the walls barely show their original white color almost covered completely by various images of saints, photos, rosary beads and flowers left by followers year after year.
What struck us most was the fact that its interior intertwines icons from the African community and other saints which are very popular in our country, for instance, Saint Cajetan, depictions of Gauchito Gil
(a folk saint) surrounded by candles, posters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even a reproduction of the General José de San Martín’s portrait. Few Pews, Much Room
There are very few pews for the congregation, since mass is not celebrated in this chapel –declared National Historic Monument in 1962. However, most residents prefer saying their prayers, whether to ask for something or to give thanks, even if they are not part of the African community.
Those who go through this inviting small front door will find an immediate reward. Every detail makes the place cozy and popular at the same time.
Nowadays, the Black Chapel has a custodian entrusted with the task of cleaning and closing it at night so that the requests made at daytime become true at night.
If there is a particular place in the city, this is the Black Chapel. Not only is it chosen by the congregation but it also represents a must tour for those who pick the City of Chascomús as a tourist destination.
Everything has been preserved intact in the same way as the African immigrants who left their imprint used it: incredible stories of oral tradition passed down by old residents. The magic of the chapel certainly lies on its spirit.