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The Church and Monastery of the Immaculate Conception is located in Garcia Moreno and Chile Street, northwest corner of the Plaza Grande in the historic downtown of Quito. It’s considered the oldest Monastery in the Ecuadorian capital.

 

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With the sponsorship of: the Order of San Francisco, Bishop Fray Pedro de la Peña and the government of the Audience, preceded by the  President García de Valverde, was founded on January 13th , 1577 the first convent of nuns in Quito.

 

The priest Juan Yanez was one of the most impatient to see the foundation of the convent, which should assist the homeless, but the prist didn’t have luck to see his dream alive. At his death he left three thousand pesos of silver to start the work.

 

The Governor of the Audience, Mr. García de Valverde, took up again Yáñez idea and started a fundraising campaign in the neighborhood and the Cabildo of Quito. The collection and the three thousand pesos the cleric bequeathed was enough to start the foundation.

Likewise, Bishop Fray Pedro de la Peña negotiator's efforts with the Audience, deal with the aldermen, that marked the site where the building was erected and gave the authorization to use the money of a deceased resident of the city called Pedro de Arroba.

 

The Audience resolved to create the convent and chaplaincy under the direction of the Franciscan religious in resolution to the Provincial of San Francisco.  Fray Antonio Jurado took possession of the property of Alonso de Paz on October 12th, 1575 and prepared to put a bell and a cross on an altar prepared to offer a mass.

 

But the foundation of the Church was interrupted and canceled until January 13th, 1577 because the bishop Peña was absent and this fact obstructed the processing of the license, canonical requirement. This reason provoked the Ecclesiastical Council to impugn the foundation of the convent. In addition, there was an aggravation between the bishop and the Audience, because the prist ordered the Indians to work in gold mines without the right to rest on holidays in order to reduce the expenses of landowners in the construction of the building.

 

In the foundation of the convent are renowned with distinction nine nuns (Maria de Taboada, Catalina Rodriguez, Francisca Xaramillo, Maria de Torres, Aldonza de Castaneda, Lucia Xaramillo and Maria Rodriguez, the other weren’t old enough, and were professing the religious live while they were fulfilling the required age). The nuns initially lived in precarious conditions. So, the City Council meeting on May 14th, 1576 decided to write to “Virrey Francisco de Toledo” in order to give a budget for the support of the religious women. But, again misfortune go with the religious due to the increase of nuns, approximately one hundred in 1586.

 

This detail forced them to meet directly with the king to demand help. Felipe II, more religious than his father, ordered to Virrey of Peru, the Conde del Villardompardo, to provide "one thousand pesos of four hundred fifty maravadíes, during each period of each year, for ten years in the designation of indios  vacos of the mentioned province of Quito". In order to resolve the requirements of religious and expenses demanded by the building, money was provided.

 

Today the nuns sell products manufactured by them as aloe vera shampoo. Also they are well known by creating clothes for Baby Jesus in Christmas.

 

On the other hand, the rich architecture of the temple and its artistic treasures were lost in a fire that severely damaged it. Currently, Alcaldía Del Distrito de Quito has delivered, through FONSAL (Rescue Fund of Quito Cultural Heritage) the work of rehabilitation, in both the monastery and church of the Conception. This entity has been responsible for restoring works of art: sculptures, paintings, murals and architectural elements that brighten up the colossal church.

 

For more information about the Church and Convent of “La Inmaculada Concepción”:

Telephone: (+593) 3 295 9632

Fax: (+593) 2 295 9510

 

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The Church and Convent of “La Inmaculada Concepción” is in full Plaza Grande, however, it passes almost unnoticed by being in a very discreet corner, on the north side of the Presidential Palace.

 

This church is part of the tourist route:“Calle de las Siete Cruces”.

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