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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Book on first bishop of the Americas to be presented in Cayey on Saturday

Casa Histórica de la Música Cayeyana in Cayey

By The Star Staff

A book about don Alonso Manso, the first bishop of Puerto Rico and the Americas, will be presented by its author, Juan Alberto Delgado Negrón, this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Casa Histórica de la Música Cayeyana, in front of the Ramón Frade public square in Cayey.

Don Alonso Manso was an illustrious academic who ended up being the first bishop of the Americas and left a notable imprint, particularly in Puerto Rico. His legacy has been summarized in Delgado Negrón’s book entitled “Bishop Alonso Manso: His Vision and Evangelizing Mission in America.”

Cayey Mayor Rolando Ortiz Velázquez said “this Saturday’s event is another manifestation of the many open doors we have in Cayey for all sectors of Puerto Rican and universal culture.”

“On this occasion, the author Delgado Negrón will take us through the life of a representative figure of Christianity in Puerto Rico, but he was also an example of the enlightened thought of that moment,” the mayor said. “We invite you all to participate in this event with free admission.”

Few know that Manso was a student who became chancellor of his university and brought with him that renewing spirit of thought and broad vision to education. In all likelihood, the first university in the Americas must have sprung up in San Juan. Manso wanted his cathedral, like his city, to have the grandeur of Seville or Salamanca. His legacy was appreciated by Count Cumberland who, in attacking Puerto Rico, admired the buildings he found, mostly ecclesiastical, which were comparable to those of the Gothic city of Oxford, one of the most beautiful cities in the Old World at that time, Delgado Negrón said.

In 1512, Manso embarked from Seville to the island of San Juan Bautista, accompanied by two clergy, becoming the first bishop of Puerto Rico and all of America. He landed in the west, arrived at the Villa de San Germán, and from there, moved by land to the town of Puerto Rico (what was formerly called Caparra) to take possession of his diocese, in May 1513.

During his work in Puerto Rico, Manso preached the gospel to the native Tainos, brought the first library to the New World, built the San Ildefonso hospital and began work on the new Cathedral of San Juan. On Sept. 27, 1539 he died without having finished the work.

He was buried in the presbytery next to the Gospel.

Those who attend the book presentation will become acquainted with the Casa Histórica de la Música Cayeyana, a large two-story wooden building with an interior patio.

The historic family home was built between 1828 and 1850, and when it fell into disuse, it deteriorated until Ortiz Velázquez determined that the municipality would acquire the property in 2003 to restore it, and deliver it to the town as a cultural, musical and artistic center. The conceptually unique building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C. as Casa Espada Cervoni.W

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