Monasterio De Santa Catalina, Peru

Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru’s second-largest city, is known as La Ciudad Blanca (the White City) for the pearly volcanic stone used in its marvelous 16th- and 17th-century buildings, including the elaborate Monasterio de Santa Catalina. It was built in 1579, or 40 years after the city itself was found.
The early town leaders wanted their own monastery of nuns. Viceroy Francisco Toledo approved their request and granted the license to found a private monastery for the nuns of the Order of Saint Catherine of Siena. 

The city of Arequipa set aside four plots of land for the monastery. Before it was completed, a wealthy young Doña María de Guzmán, the widow of Diego Hernández de Mendoza, decided to retire from the world and became the first resident of the monastery. She also became the prioress and founder as she used her money to underwrite the monastery’’ s work continued.

It also attracted a number of women as novices who were criollas and daughters of curacas, Indian chieftains. Other women entered the monastery to live as lay persons apart from the world.
The monastery has been open to the public since 1970.

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