During my day tour last week of Arequipa, I also got the opportunity to visit this monastery–which is still a working home for about 20 nuns! The Monastery of Saint Catherine is a monastery of nuns of the Dominican Second Order, located just a couple blocks from the Plaza de Armas. It was built in 1579 and was enlarged in the 17th century. The over 20,000-square-meter monastery was built predominantly in the Mudéjar style (Moorish or Muslim style as seen in the Iberian peninsula) and is characterized by its vividly painted walls of red, blue and gold. The nuns who still live here are in the northern corner of the complex; the rest of the monastery is open to the public.
Each family paid a dowry at their daughter’s admission to the monastery. The dowry expected of a woman who wished to enter as a choir nun–indicated by wearing a black veil—and who thereby accepted the duty of the daily recitation of the Divine Office, was 2,400 silver coins, equivalent to about $150,000 (U.S.) today. The nuns were also required to bring 25 listed items, including a statue, a painting, a lamp and clothes. The wealthiest nuns may have brought fine English china and silk curtains and rugs. Although it was possible for poorer nuns to enter the convent without paying a dowry, it can be seen from the cells that most of the nuns were very wealthy.
I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain and Mexico. I'm exploring the world.
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