Fifty kilometers west of Encarnación, by the Parana River, the mission of San Cosme and Damián is the only Jesuit church in Paraguay that still offers services. During colonial times this mission was the main focus of astronomy in the whole of South America; it’s importance in astronomical research was such that its works were released in Europe. The Jesuits built telescopes and quadrants for such a purpose, and there is still an astonishingly precise sundial at the site. The church, restored in 1977 after a fire, is named after twin saintly brothers that were believed to be protecting the native Guarani people against the diseases introduced by the European colonists. It features images of religious value, including it’s two saints and various wooden statues. A visit to this site may include a film about native Guaraní cosmology and the chance to get a glimpse of the sun though their helioscope.
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