United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


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The Jesuit missions of the Guaranís represented one of the most important cultural initiatives in the colonization of Latin America. Dubbed the “Jesuit Route,” the 30 localities, dating back from 1609 to the mid-18th century, are scattered along the borders of modern-day Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The Society of Jesus was the prime mover behind a series of impressive achievements in town planning, architecture and the applied arts, as well as the social and economic organization of the Guaranís.

With the collaboration of UNESCO, the countries concerned drew up a plan of action in 1978 to preserve and restore sites and remains of the missions, that had been deteriorating since the Jesuits’ expulsion in 1768. The medal was struck to commemorate the event. In 1983, five missions in Argentina and Brazil were inscribed on the World Heritage List, while a further two in Paraguay were listed in 1993. An international campaign for the missions’ protection and restoration was also launched in 1988.

The obverse side of the medal shows an 18th-century church bell, now in the Provincial Historical Museum at Rosario, Argentina and bears the Latin inscription Orbis Guaraniticus (World of the Guaraní). The reverse shows an angel carrying a maraca (gourd rattle) from a church at Trinidad, Paraguay. This medal was issued in 1978.

Available in gold, silver and bronze.

Photo © UNESCO/N. Burke

© UNESCO 1995-2008 - ID: 26422