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308. toribio de ayerza ◊

Toribio de Ayerza, Recoleta Cemetery

Looming along the back wall of the cemetery, the memorial for Toribio de Ayerza stands out for its oversized sculptures & the surrounding greenery… quite different from the norm in Recoleta Cemetery. Toribio surely saw a lot of sleepless nights, & his bust reflects that. The accompanying angel gazes innocently toward the heavens:

Toribio de Ayerza, Recoleta Cemetery

Toribio de Ayerza, Recoleta Cemetery

A Basque doctor who trained in Madrid & Paris, Ayerza arrived in Argentina in 1845 & brought with him the trachaeotomy—instrumental in relieving symptoms of diphtheria in children. The bacteria responsible for the disease causes thick mucous membranes to form in the airway. By inserting a tube in the windpipe, the patient gains valuable time for other treatment to be administered. Symbols of Ayerza’s profession & those children he helped decorate the lower part of the tomb:

Toribio de Ayerza, Recoleta Cemetery

Toribio de Ayerza, Recoleta Cemetery

Along with Guillermo Rawson, Ayerza founded the Argentine Red Cross in 1880 but his public activities weren’t solely dedicated to medicine. As part of a growing Basque community in Buenos Aires, he also helped found Laurak-Bat—a Basque club with a restaurant that remains popular today (Avenida Belgrano 1169). The name translates to “the four are one,” meaning that the four Basque regions of Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Araba & Nafarroa share a common identity. The four individual coats-of-arms are combined on the front of the building along with a Basque flag:

Laurak Bat, Buenos Aires

Laurak Bat, Buenos Aires

View third photo larger on Flickr.

Published in:Science

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