Convent of Madre de Dios

The convent was founded in the year 1472 Isabel Ruiz de Esquivel, important personality of that time since it was the wife of the warden of Seville, Juan Sánchez de Huete. Doña Isabel created a beguinage for Dominican Sisters, specifically in an old building, whose owner was the Hospital of San Cristóbal and Santiago, whose location was the Puerta de Triana. However, the building itself lasted very short since a flood in the late fifteenth century, almost completely destroyed the building

For this reason, the nuns whose desolation was patent sought help from Queen Isabella the Catholic because the sovereign had lived for years in the city and had a great affection for it. The Catholic Queen, after the discovery of America, gave the nuns a block of houses in front of the parish church of San Nicolás. These houses had been expropriated from the Jews who also had a synagogue which was converted into an oratory for the future convent.

This fact of conversion to a convent occurred only fifty years later, where the nuns even managed to build a church. Likewise, the new facilities were created in several works that took several years. Finally, the church was finished in 1572, whose address was taken by the architects Juan de Simancas and Pedro Díaz de Palacios and the cover of San José Street, the work of Juan de Oviedo and the Flag finished in 1590. The door It has as a remarkable figure a niche with the image of the life of the Virgin delivering the rosary to Santo Domingo and below the coat of arms of the Order of Preachers. This work ended in 1598, but at such a high cost that the congregation was in utter ruin, so they again requested real help, specifically Philip III asking him to confirm all the privileges that the convent had and at the same time I made the mercy of some new help. These privileges were confirmed and the congregation knew then the moments of greatest growth and splendor

The growth of the community was due especially to the entrance of women linked to high society and the Discovery of America. Among them, three daughters of Don Jorge de Portugal, Count of Gelves and Doña Isabel Colón and Toledo, three great-granddaughters of Columbus, one was Prioress in the year 1599; Doña Juana de Zúñiga, widow of Hernán Cortés, her daughter Dona Catalina Cortés and her daughter-in-law Catalina de Arellano; the graduate Diego Venegas and family; Beltrán de Cetina, father of the poet Gutiérrez de Cetina, and many others. Other sisters of lesser importance are Sr. Mariana de Santo Domingo Riosoto, Sr. Mariana de Santa Rosa and Sr. Barbara de Santo Domingo, although the latter is very revered of her past and present community.

With the disentailment that took place in the 19th century, the nuns lost part of their patrimony, although with the restoration of the monarchy, many of the properties and the patrimony were returned to them although another part went directly to the state.

Architecturally, its interior is formed by a single nave covered with great beauty covered by coffered ceilings of rich latticework, of Mudejar type with five panels, created by Francisco Ramírez, Alonso Ruiz and Alonso Castillo. An arch is supported by doric type columns containing paintings by Lucas de Valdés and wrought iron parapets, executed by Pedro de Valera, and which separates the main chapel from the rest of the body of the church.

The main altarpiece was created in an interval of two years at the beginning of the eighteenth century commissioned to Francisco de Barahona and with sculptures of other primitive altarpieces due to Jerónimo Hernández. The altarpiece located on the side, dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary shows an interesting collection of reliefs of the late sixteenth century, however, another of great importance is the second altar of the wall of the Gospel with the painting that represents the “Entombment of Christ.”

The enclosure area has a square floor layout and two stories high, marble columns on pedestals in both and wooden beams on the ground floor. Around this patio we find the refectory and the office of the abbess on the ground floor and the cells on the top floor, being also used as a cemetery for the community.

However, the other patio has an irregular shape with three galleries of three heights and where the dormitory area is located, the infirmary goes down and some cells.