Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Ex Convent and Church of Santa Clara, Queretaro.

After the great conquest in 1520-1521, Hernan Cortes most formidable challenge was the tribes that rules in the regions north and west of Tenochtitlan. Just as the alliance with the tribes of Tlaxcala proved to be the key to defeating the Aztec Empire, the peace treaty that Cortes negotiated with Conin, the chief of the Indians that ruled the territory in and around Queretaro, proved to be essential in consolidating his hold over the entire country that today we call Mexico.
Carlos V, King of Spain, considered Conin an important vassal and ally of his Kingdom. Conin and his family were considered by Cortes and by Carlos V as part of the nobility of the Nueva Espana, and not as ignorant and savage dupes. His Granddaughter, would become a nun, in the first Franciscan Convent established in Queretaro, and she would be the abbess of superior of the Convent for the rest of her life. This was the Convent of Santa Clara of Assisi, the founder of the female congregation of the Franciscans.
Diego de Tapia was the son of the great chief Conin. Diego's daughter Luisa was the founder of the Convent of Santa Clara in 1607, and became the convents first Abbess.  For over 250 years, the Convent of Saint Clara was very prosperous and occupied 3 city blocks. 
During the presidency of Benito Juarez, the laws of the Reform were enacted and enforced, requiring that the properties of the Convents and Monasteries be turned over the government, and foreign priests be expelled from Mexico, and Mexican monks and sisters were required to leave their convents and return to their homes. In many cases, these nuns had no family to return to, nor a place to leave. The Convent of Santa Clara was closed in 1862, but many sisters returned over the following months, and the convent was closed permanently the following years, and none of the sisters were allowed to remain. Some surviving nuns were still alive in the following century, and some of them had no place of their own to live their final years of life.

The only surviving section of the huge monastic complex of Santa Clara today is the Church, and is an eloquent sample of the beauty of the Baroque style in Queretaro and in the Nueva Espana.

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