The History of the Temple of Santa Clara de Querétaro
In a few days, the centenary of the canonical erection of the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Santa Clara) will be celebrated.
Bishop Fidencio López Plaza will preside over the solemn Eucharistic Thanksgiving concelebration for such a memorable event.
From the Parish of the Convent of Clarisas Nuns, the Chronicler of the Diocese Presbítero Francisco Gavidia, Arteaga, explains:
At the beginning of the 17th century, Don Diego de Tapia, son of the conqueror Don Fernando de Tapia, lived in the town of Querétaro, the owner of the largest estates in this jurisdiction; in 1581 he had inherited the chiefdom from his father and little by little his entire fortune.
He ruled the town for many years and served with his weapons and horses in the Chichimeca war under Nicolás de San Luis.
The history of the Tapia family spans three generations, Don Fernando and his wife, Doña Magdalena, had five children: Don Diego de Tapia, Doña Magdalena, Doña María, Doña Catalina and Doña Beatriz. All of Don Fernando’s daughters married leading Indians, but they had no legitimate heirs.
Don Diego had a daughter, doña María Luisa, the only legitimate daughter of the entire second generation of the Tapia, she was the last surviving heir of the Tapia that appears in the notarial records.
Don Diego eagerly wanted to give his daughter status, but his high income did not give him room to discern which would be more accurate; For this reason, when consulted on this with the RP Fray Miguel López, a native of Navarra, son of the Franciscan Province of San Pedro and San Pablo de Michoacán who had great wishes to enrich his province, with a convent of nuns, he persuaded the chief Don Diego from Tapia to found a Convent of Poor Clare nuns and named her daughter as one of its first residents and founder.
Don Diego proposed such advice to his daughter, which she accepted and entered the Convent of Santa Clara in Mexico as a novice. More than forcing her, she freely accepted to enter the Convent, most likely she accepted by vocation.
Doña Luisa’s life passed locked within the walls of the Convent, where she took the name of Doña Luisa del Espíritu Santo.
With this resolution, the cacique immediately gave Fr. Miguel López broad powers to implement the licenses and carry out the other proceedings concerning the founding of a Convent in Querétaro.
After practicing all these things, a Convent began to be built in front of San Francisco, in the old street of the five gentlemen (Hoy Juárez), whose bars were in the one that went from the garden of said convent to San Agustín, and for At that time it was called Calle de las Rejas.
Having approved the foundation, the coming of the fundadoras Religiosas Clarisas who came from the Convent of Santa Clara and San Juan de la Penitenciaria in Mexico City was organized and arranged.
The founders were the RR. MM. Sr. Elvira Sánchez de Figueroa, Sr. Mariana de Santa Clara, Sr. Catalina de Cervantes, Sr. María de San Cristóbal, Sr. Ana de la Circumcisión, Sr. Florencia and Sr. Catalina de San Idelfonso; with them also came the RR. MM. Sor Juana del Señor Joseph and Sor Juana de San Miguel.
All of them arrived in Querétaro and took possession of the Convent on January 14, 1607, the day they celebrated the Sweet Name of Jesus; RM Sr. Elvira Sánchez de Figueroa was elected as the first Abbess, and M. Luisa del Espíritu Santo, daughter of Don Diego de Tapia, entered for the first novice, as founder and patron.
But this Convent for the nuns was very small and uncomfortable.
Due to the great demand in Queretaro, a new conventual building and Temple were built. On February 6, 1621, work began on the construction of the new building at first, the work was in charge of an anonymous Franciscan architect, possibly Fray Pedro de los Ángeles, who could not see his work finished, since the provincial He was removed from office on October 3, 1624. After the direction of the work had remained vacant for four years, the master Francisco Chavida was entrusted to him.
Despite the mistakes and mismanagement, the work was completed by Luis Francisco de la Peña. The work was completed later than planned. On July 21, 1633, the nuns were transferred to the convent, at the same time the remains of their patron D. Diego de Tapia were transferred.
Cloistered women sought the means that would allow them to live with some privacy. Its interior was like a small city and constituted a true town closed to the world. On this surface, a number of 60 house-rooms were installed – personal for the nuns and their servants and slaves that were built with resources from the nuns themselves, in addition to the dowry that these nuns provided by obligation.
The Temple of the Convent
The Temple of Santa Clara de Querétaro, which we can still see, is the same one directed by José de Bayas Delgado, in the seventeenth century, except for repairs due to deterioration or destruction, as is the case of the towers. The Temple consists of a single nave with a hall plan, whose longitudinal axis is parallel to the street, It measures 109.25 x 23.40 according to the plan raised in 1994.- divided into eight sections separated by Tuscan pilasters that give rise to the transverse arches that carry the groin vaults.
The first Temple of this convent still exists, that its nave is the continuous space (current theater) parallel to the current temple. When the second temple was built, the destruction of the previous one is not mentioned, nor is there any talk of an extension. This Temple, whose dimensions are unknown, soon became small for the nuns in the choir and for the faithful in the nave, so in April 1662 the construction of another was planned.
The current Temple was designed and directed by the architect José de Bayas Delgado and built by the Indians, our ancestors, who anonymously always carried the heavy weight of the constructions.
There are four collateral altarpieces on the Epistle side, and two on the Gospel side, six in total. It is a pity that none of the original or primitive altarpieces exist, since all were replaced by new collaterals, either due to gradual deterioration or because of fire or simply because their forms already seemed out of date for the taste of the time and had to be updated.
On March 4, 1672, the Poor Clares again hired the services of José de Bayas; this time to take charge of the main altarpiece, since he was also an assembly master. We can say little about it because, as on countless occasions, we have run into the insurmountable barrier of destruction, perhaps by fire, perhaps by fashion, but this altarpiece was replaced by others in the 18th century; one more in the nineteenth century, which in turn was removed to put the current one that premiered in 1845, in a neoclassical style with a large
Cypress, all in quarry, trace of the invasion of the ate novo of the 19th century.
The main altarpieces of this Temple must have displayed several biographical scenes of its owner; None of these remain. The looting of this convent, since the final departure of the nuns, has deprived us of the reconstruction of these altars, of the knowledge of their works and the style of the artists.
The wonderful altarpieces built between 1740 and 1770 have been considered the most exuberant churrigueresque of the time. Manufacture of the master Francisco Martínez Gudiño; that of San Juan Nepomuceno by the master Pedro José de Rojas and designed by the master Luis Ramos Franco, Paintings by Agustín Ledesma. The Pulpit and the façade of the choir are Manufactured by the master Francisco Martínez Gudiño. We place these altarpieces within the period known as ultra-baroque. Of the six, five correspond to the ultra-baroque style, made in the second half of the 18th century, and one, that of San Juan Nepomuceno, to the baroque stipe.
They are totally carved in very good wood, in high relief, burnished in fine gold, with a profusion of decorative elements, pilasters of very varied shapes, capricious capitals, medallions, shelves and niches for numerous images of generally Franciscan saints. One of the most notable is the altarpiece of the Virgin of Guadalupe, of the most advanced Baroque. Magnificent paintings adorn the mentioned altarpieces.