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Temples, Churches and Ex-monasteries
Compañía de Jesús
The Jesuit missionaries arrived in Mexico in 1572. One of their main objectives was university and humanities education, which made them acquire great popularity and prestige in a very short period of time. Thus, their educational advancements motivated their being invited to open a school in the City of Oaxaca This petition was accepted, and with the financial support of Manuel Fiallo and the Cathedral’s Dean, Juan Luis Martinez, construction work was initiated on or about 1576.
The temple’s construction began in 1579, which the Jesuits dedicated to Saint Francisco Javier. This structure was left in ruins several times by earthquakes; especially those of 1603, 1604 and 1607. The 1665 restoration lasted but a few years, since in 1711, another quake caused the collapse of the temple’s vaults and the school. In 1767, the Jesuit Order was expelled from New Spain. the convent and temple were given to a congregation of Concepcionista nuns. Diverse repairs were carried out, and the temple remained dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Due to the secularisation decree in 1867, the building remained abandoned for more than thirty years. During that time, the convent and school were sectioned off and sold to private individuals, which is the reason for the current stores on the ground level and warehouses on the upper level. On May 4, 1933, the group of buildings was declared a historic monument.
The main facade of the temple faces east. It is notable for the convex and broken form of the portal, to which we add the polygonal bases of the towers. The portal combines classical and manieristic elements that evoke the plateresque style. It has two sections, with two pairs of balustrade columns flanking the access bay and a niche containing a Saint Ignacio de Loyola sculpture. In the entrecalles formed by the columns are empty niches crowned by medallions. In the second section we can appreciate three rectangular windows. The pediment is a triangular gable.
The interior layout of the temple corresponds to the form of a Latin cross. Three chapels were added to this level. The Virgin of Guadeloupe Chapel located south of the nave, Señor del Rayo Chapel on the north side, and the Sacred Heart, situated as prolongation of the southern transept.
The transept is covered with semicircular vault over a circular tambour. A groined vault covers the nave, apse and transepts. The sotocoro by a lunnette, and the choir by a barrelled vault.
The main retable is made of wood and preserves part of its old forms and gilding. It only has one section and crest. The central niche, among estipites contains the image of the Immaculate Conception. On both sides are vaulted niches with Saint Joaquin and Saint Ana, the Virgin’s parents. In the pinnacle is a niche with a Saint Ignacio de Loyola image. The other retables are of more recent construction. The lateral niches are made in neo-Gothic style and the one dedicated to the Sacred Heart is neo-Romanesque.
The old ex convent or school was divided in four rectangular courtyards with corridors and arcades supported by Doric columns. Its imposing fortified and enclosed aspect gave origin to the nickname "The Strong House", which is still in use today. When it was sold to private individuals, a number of irregular bays to accommodate various commercial enterprises were opened to the exterior. Notwithstanding its relative deterioration and modifications, the building still preserves its architectural unity. The exterior facades have been beautified to preserve them in apparent good conditions.
This temple is located to one side of the Central Plaza (Zócalo) in the City of Oaxaca, on the corner formed by Trujano and Flores Magon Streets.