The Philosopher’s Stone

On the first anniversary of the disaster, Pope John Paul II visited Armero to consecrate the site. It was the last stop on his 1986 tour of Latin America. Kneeling at the cross erected to mark the place where the Church once stood, the Pope prayed for the souls of the dead. This image has become especially memorable to Colombians. In 2015, to mark thirty years since the tragedy, local artist Hernán Darío Nova created a sculpture of the Pope’s kneeling figure in stone sourced in the surroundings of Armero. The Philosopher’s Stone, as he termed it, ‘creates a passage between the material and the spiritual as represented in the image of the Pope’. He filled the surroundings of the sculpture with 25,000 pebbles, each representing a victim of Armero. Visitors are encouraged to approach the sculpture barefoot, in ‘a gesture of respect and devotion that allows us to feel the healing energy of the Armero stones’. You can listen to the artist talk about his work here.

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