HOME » Cultural Attractions »
Temples, Churches and Ex-monasteries
Franciscan Friars carried out the construction which started in 1592, year of their arrival to the then, city of Antequera. Fray Francisco de Taranto initiated the construction, directed by Fray Hernando de Covarcos. The Bishop of Oaxaca was Fray Bartolome Ledesma. The temple and the convent were dedicated to Saint Idelfonso. However, the name of Saint Francisco predominated among religious others, and to date it has prevailed. The chapel of the Third Order, annexed to the temple, dates from 1733.
In 1860, after the monks’ secularisation, the convent was occupied by various civil institutions: a Normal School, Art School, and general hospital. At present it is headquarters for the State Public Works Offices.
The temple of Saint Francisco was restored on several occasions, due to the structural damages caused by earthquakes during the last and present century. The last restoration occurred in 1945. Around this time it was opened again to worshippers.
The essential characteristic of the temple is the main portal, unique in the city for its baroque style. Likewise, it is distinguished for the chapel of the Third Order, whose disposition and dimensions are similar to the temple.
The portal, between a great vaulted niche, is of two sections and a pediment. In the first section, the access through a moulded semicircular arch is located having pilasters on both sides. It has entrecalles
formed by columns shaped like truncated inverted pyramids that bear an entablature, and between them are the sculptures of Saint Francisco and Saint Diego of Alcala on pedestals and frameworks with vaulted niches. Over the access, the entablature is interrupted by a relief that represents the baptism of Christ. The choir window is situated in the second section and has a mixed arch. It has a simple framework, and is flanked by columns shaped like truncated inverted pyramids with shields of the Order. The pediment is a niche with a sculpture of the Virgin.
The interior is a Latin cross covered with cross vaults; the transept and apse, are covers with domes over tambour and pendentives. In the transepts are other chapels covered with domes and vaults. Due to the diverse restorations, the interior lacks original ornamentation; the current ornamentation is very simple. From the transepts is an access to the chapel of the Third Order and to the cultural centre that is used at present time for the preparation of Franciscan seminarians.
The Chapel of the Third Order also has the shape of a Latin cross; it is covered with barrelled vaults, lunette vaults, and cupola over tambour and pendentives. It lacks original decoration.
The portal of the chapel is on the east wall, at right angles with that of the temple. It seems that the original portal used to be on the north side, where we still can see a walled-in door and two towers with a campanile. The portal is made in two sections with a pediment; the two sections have areas with vaulted niches of lobed arches that contain sculptures of saints. The access shows a semi-circular arch, with a symbol of the Third Order on the keystone. The pediment is a central niche with the sculpture of Saint Fernando and to the sides are other smaller sculptures: one of them represents Saint Joseph.
In the priest’s house are more than twenty oil paintings dating from the 1700’s and 1800’s, which constitutes a small pinacotheca. Among other religious subjects that these pictures represent are the Coronation of the Virgin by the Holy Trinity, the Offerings of the Kings, the Presentation to the Temple, the Anniversaries of Cana, and scenes of the Passion of Christ. Archangels, portraits and scenes of the lives of Saints can also be appreciated, as well as portraits of prelates. One of them is that of Fray Cristobal la Concepcion, from the province of San Diego.
The temple and ex convent of Saint Francisco is located in the heart of the Historic Centre of the City of Oaxaca, four blocks south of the Central Plaza (Zócalo) on Brown Street; between José Maria Bustamante and Armenta y Lopez Streets.