Church of San Francisco El Grande

Antigua, Guatemala

Church of San Francisco El Grande

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San Francisco el Grande is a church in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala and one of the most frequented sanctuaries by the local population because of the shrine of Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur (Santo Hermano Pedro).

When Franciscan missionaries arrived in Guatemala from Spain in 1530 they were assigned 120 villages by the civil authorities. They were the first to move to the Panchoy Valley in 1541 where they built a church at the site of today's School of Christ (Escuela de Cristo). This chapel was severely damaged in 1565 and during the next ten years donations were collected to build a new sanctuary located two blocks away in 1579. Parts of this construction, maybe the only ones in Antigua which date back to the 16th century, can be appreciated at one side of today's sanctuary. San Francisco el Grande became a significant religious and cultural center for the whole region. Theology, law, philosophy, physics and mathematics were taught at San Buenaventury College, located in today's monastery ruins. The college also favoured painters of the colonial era such as Cristóbal de Villalpando, Thomas de Merlo and Alonzo de la Paz.

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