Templo de La Enseñanza (Nuestra Señora del Pilar)

Mexico City, Mexico

Templo de La Enseñanza (Nuestra Señora del Pilar)

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La Enseñanza Church (The Teaching Church) (1772-1778) is located on 104 Donceles Street in the historic center of Mexico City. The Mexican Churrigueresque style of this church, especially that of its altarpieces, is upheld as the pinnacle of the Baroque period in Mexico, as this style soon gave way to the Neoclassic shortly after this church was built. The church’s official name is Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Church of Our Lady of the Pillar). The former convent was called El Convento de la Enseñanza La Antigua (The Old Convent of the Teaching), from which is derived the church’s popular name. After the Reform War, the convent was disbanded. The complex has had various uses, but the church has been returned to its sacred function.

The convent was founded by Mother Maria Ignacia Alzor, who belonged to the Company of Mary Our Lady founded by Jeanne de Lestonnac, one of two convents of that order in Mexico City. Mother Maria Ignacia was from a wealthy Criollo family that had established itself in Coahuila, Chihuahua and Durango. Maria Ignacio was the daughter of José Ramón de Azlor, espaňol, and Captain General of Coahuila-Tejas. Her mother was Maria Ignacia Javiera de Echeverz y Valdes, the 2nd Marquesa de Aguayo. Maria Ignacio was born in 1715 in Durango and died in 1777. She entered the order of the Company of Mary Our Lady in Spain, where she obtained permission to found a convent and school for young girls. She bought two houses on what is now Donceles Street (then Calle de Cordobanes), just north of the main cathedral of Mexico City. In the area between the two houses, she began to build the church. This small space would determine the unusual design and dimensions of the building. With Francisco Antonio Guerrero y Torres and Friar Lucas de Jesús María as the architects, the church was built between 1772 and 1778.

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