Rev. Alfonso Guevara inside St. John the Baptist Parish on Wednesday in San Juan. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)
Stain glass shimmers off a granite baptismal font and onto the wooden pews at the original
Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle on Wednesday, Oct.21,2020 in San Juan. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
Pablo Villescas was in class at Austin Junior High, roughly a mile-and-a-half from the site of the crash, when word began to spread about a fire at the shrine. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
A single-engine Piper Cherokee flown by 52-year-old Franklin L. Alexander collided with the roof of the church. The plane happened to strike one of the steel girders framing the roof of the church, ricocheted off and crashed into the adjacent Catholic school cafeteria where nearly 100 children were eating lunch. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
The church has put forth extensive efforts to reclaim many artifacts from that day Ñ artifacts not believed to have been lost in the fire. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
Religious artifacts from the original Our Lady of San Juan del Valle are stored away in a room on Wednesday, Oct.21,2020 in San Juan. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
Among the artifacts are nearly a dozen chalices, which Villescas said he found and purchased from a garage sale two years ago for $2 to $3 each. Those artifacts, along with the statue of the Virgin and the tower of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church are all that remain. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
Catholic statues and figurines are seen inside a secure room on Wednesday in San Juan. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)
Among those retrieved artifacts include bronze and copper statues, stained glass windows, the charred tabernacle, and near a wall of the room lay the Piper Cherokee engine next to twisted metal wings. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
Part of the airplane wing sits on a shelf inside a room along with a engine of the airplane that crashed at Our Lady of San Juan del Valle shrine and the cafeteria. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)
By the time we got together and said we need to save as much as we can, starting from the bricks to the bronze and gold statues. I could see people going through the rubble. I didnÕt think anything about it. There was no fence until it was determined that people were taking stuff.Ó Villescas recalled .Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com
The airplane engine is seen inside a room at the at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle on Wednesday, in San Juan. The engine is the original engine of the plane that crashed into the shrine 50 years ago. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)
Monsignor Juan Nicolau ‘To me now — I’m a man of a lot of faith — I believe that the Virgin Mary saved all the priests. Now it is in my heart — every day.” Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com