Video 19 Nov 80 notes

Monastery of San Francisco, Lima

Convento de San Francisco is the Spanish name for Saint Francis Monastery located in Lima, Peru at Ancash, south of Parque la Muralla and one block northeast from the Plaza Mayor. The church and convent are part of the Historic Centre of Lima, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. Aside from a church and monastery it also contains a library and catacombs. In this church, Jude the Apostle is venerated. At the feast of Saint Jude Tadeus a one and a half ton weighing silver stand is carried round in procession by 40 people, starting from the convent.

Lima’s first cemetery were the catacombs below the monastery contain an ossuary and some secret passageways are said to connect to the cathedral and the Tribunal of the Inquisition. The catacombs remained in use until 1808 when a city cemetery outside of Lima was founded. The catacombs were discovered in 1943. It is estimated to contain 70,000 burials. Bones line up along narrow hallways underneath the church, and one area contains several large and deep holes, filled with bones and skulls arranged above each other in circular patterns.

The convent’s library is world-renowned. It possesses about 25,000 antique texts, some of them predating the conquest. Some notable books are the first Spanish dictionary published by the Royal Spanish Academy and a Holy Bible edition from 1571- 1572 printed in Antwerp.

The staircase towards the library has a spectacular, geometric Moorish-style cuppola in Nicaraguan cedar for a ceiling. It was carved in 1625 and restored in 1969. The choir is positioned on the second floor looking out onto the nave and is made of cedar carved with biblical figures.

Other notable possessions are 13 paintings of the biblical patriarch Jacob and his 12 sons in the refectory, by the hand of the studio of the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán. The last supper painted by Diego de la Puente depicts typical Peruvian ingredients and meals, instead of European dishes it depicts, such as guinea pig, potatoes and chillis. Also peculiar is the Devil hovering besides Judas. The monastery also possesses several paintings attributed to the school of Peter Paul Rubens

The convent originally included seven cloisters (the main courtyard, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis Solanus, Pepper Yard, the Infirmary, the Novitiate and the Third Order). During the works to open Abancay Avenue in the 1940s, part of the monastery (including St. Bonaventure’s courtyard) was demolished, and the section used by the Third Order was separated from the main structure.

Another cloister, that once belonged to the Franciscans, was given to the Society for Public Welfare around 1847 and became part of the Ruiz Dávila Hospice. Another part of the complex is now used by the Peruvian National Police.

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