The Santa Catalina de Siena church is the remaining part of the important old Santa Catalina Convent. The building shares much of its history with the Old School of Jurisprudence, directly to the south. That’s what became of much of the complex and there, it’s been visibly modified over the centuries. The Church bears a much stronger resemblance to the original complex. The west facing façade bears the double entrance typical of women’s establishments during the era it was built.
The convent was founded by Dominican nuns in 1593. The building of the complex began in 1619 on properties formerly owned by Diego Hurtado de Peñaloza. Construction finished in 1623. It remained an active convent for nuns until the 19th century. In 1863 it was converted to a hospital. By 1867, the few remaining nuns were forced out and the complex was converted to a military barracks.
The tower and some parts of the southern complex were demolished to begin the conversion to the Jurisprudence School in 1902. The convent lent its name to the street outside for many years. The Street of Santa Catalina de Siena was changed to Republica de Argentina in 1928.
The Presbyterian Church of Mexico took over the church in 1933. They’ve made minor alterations including replacing the wooden floor in 1947 with clay tile.
The spare interior doesn’t draw frequent visits. But, perhaps ironically, the spare décor of the Presbyterians makes viewing the historic architecture that much easier.
Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México – Coordinación Nacional de Monumentos Históricos. Ficha del Catálogo Nacional de Monumentos Históricos Inmuebles número I-09-02030 . -. Disponible en: http://catalogonacionalmhi.inah.gob.mx/consulta_publica/detalle/11237
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