Santa Catalina Monastery – Social club for upper class daughters?

Arequipa - Monestary and Yanahuara 2013-03-032“The Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Sena was built in 1579 and is located in the historical center of Arequipa, Peru. It served as a cloister for Dominican nuns from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and still houses a small religious community today. The complex, which stretches over 20,000 square meters, is built from volcanic sillar stone and is organized into cloisters, living quarters, a plaza, a gallery, and a chapel.” (World Monuments Fund) [keep reading below gallery]

In 1871 Sister Josefa Cadena, O.P., a strict Dominican nun, was sent by Pope Pius IX to reform the monastery. She sent the rich dowries back to Europe, and freed all the servants and slaves, giving them the choice of either remaining as nuns or leaving. At its height, the monastery housed approximately 450 people (about a third of them nuns and the rest servants) in a cloistered community.  There are approximately 20 nuns currently living in the northern corner of the complex; the rest of the monastery is open to the public.

In the 1960s, it was struck twice by earthquakes, severely damaging the structures, and forcing the nuns to build new accommodation next door. It was then restored in stages by groups including Promociones Turisticas del Sur S.A. and World Monuments Fund and opened to the public.” (Wikipedia)

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