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The Vasco de Quiroga Hermitage is a popular new cultural and community center in a historic building. It’s coordinated from the larger Ex Fábrica de Pólvora, the Powder Factory cultural center in the center of the new Chapultepec Section 4. In an inaccessibly picturesque valley, it’s a charming meeting point. It was originally an oratory, that is, a private chapel, rather far from the town of Santa Fe. It’s about 200 meters away from the original town center. That was the 16th-century center of colonial life in this small part of the valley of Mexico.
The hermitage was the home of the Venerable Gregorio López. López (1542-1596) was an early hermit and healer who wrote the standard medical guide consulted for some 200 years in New Spain. He was never fully beatified as a saint although reports of his miracle working reached Rome in the early 17th century.
An inscription over the main entrance reads: “School of the Love of God and Contempt for the Devil. Built in the year 1695.” This indicates that, while López didn’t live in this exact building, the site was used as a religious installation over several centuries.
In 1702 his remains were transferred from the Carmelite convent to the metropolitan cathedral. It should be noted that the cause for his beatification was suspended, for which reason he is called “Venerable”. The complex also includes the house of the “guardacaños,” those charged with maintaining an aqueduct. Although, it’s not generally open to the public, the aqueduct ran from here all the way to the present-day Bellas Artes.
The cultural center, though, is usually booked solid. Activities range from artistic and job-training workshops, to song and dance that spills out into the surrounding walkways. The walkways themselves, on steep terrain, lend themselves to audience participation, and lots of places for seating. Outdoor concerts and recitals are another mainstay.
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