Saints and bishops 'come to life' as tour guides at historic Catholic churches
ORIGINAL SOURCE | 13th June 2024
Catholic News Agency

By Diego López Colín

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 13, 2024 / 07:00 am

In the oldest section of Panama City, saints and bishops of the Catholic Church have come to life to offer engaging brief talks to visitors. Using kiosks with screens, the innovative experience allows visitors to come face to face with historical and religious figures that can enhance their appreciation for the sacred sites.

Since April of this year, in five Catholic churches in the heart of Panama City visitors can find kiosks that not only provide information about each church but also offer the benefit of a virtual tour guide, embodied in saints and bishops linked to the history and mission of the particular parish.

At the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, for example, visitors are greeted by St. Pedro Nolasco, founder of the Mercedarians. At St. Joseph's Church, St. Augustine of Hippo is there to welcome visitors.

At the Cathedral Basilica of Santa María La Antigua, Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the bishop of Panama between 1534 and 1537, is featured.

Meanwhile, at the Church of St. Philip Neri, it is St. Philip Neri himself, founder of the Oratorians, who receives visitors.

The director of the churches' joint initiative, María Isabel Arrocha, explained that the purpose of the project goes beyond simply guiding visitors through the historic parishes.

"We want people, in addition to visiting the church and learning about its historical and artistic characteristics, to learn about the founder, their lives, and how these orders are linked to Panama," Arrocha said in an interview with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner.

Once the preferred language is selected, visitors have access to two options through intuitive buttons.

The first option, titled "Tourist Visit," offers a video that invites the guest to explore the wonders of the churches of the Old City.

In addition, it provides additional tools such as geolocation based on the Old City map and a detailed map showing the locations of the churches and monuments of the Panamanian capital's historic district.

The second button, titled with the name of the church being visited, offers a video that highlights the most important elements of the church.

In addition, the video provides information on the Mass and sacramental schedule of the church.

Technology at the service of evangelization

Arrocha indicated that the ultimate aim of the project is "continuing to carry the message of love and the source of knowledge that is Christ Jesus," through the use of the new technologies.

The initiative is also designed to boost "people's visits to our churches" as well as learning in different realms, including historical, cultural, and religious.

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"The churches of the Old City are part of the history of Panama, with more than 350 years of presence that is reflected to this day. They are 17th-century churches nourished by a contemporary and living faith that we want to share with all who visit us," Arrocha said.

Arrocha added that, in addition to teaching the history of faith in a different way, the devices are also ideal "for visits with students and for catechesis."

In sum, the project leader said people "are amazed to see that these historical monuments have such advanced technology" to share such a helpful and engaging message with visitors.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Article reprinted with permission.