CHURCH BUILDING

The church was completed in 1619 (architect Simón de Monasterio), and consecrated the same year. Dome and skylight or lantern have been damaged by the passage of time but, especially, by the Lisbon earthquake in 1755. It was made following a Jesuit style, inspired by the Gesu of Rome, mother church of the Jesuits. Its structure is a Plant of Latin cross, with short arms. The central nave (33,80 m long, 9,25 m wide and 20,80 m high) has a half-barrel vault, resting on an entablature of Ionic order, whose frieze is adorned with a Simple and elegant geometric border. On each side of this central nave there is a lower aisle side with chapels. The transept finishes by a half orange dome (36 m high and 10 m in diameter). Such a dome has eight bay windows, and rests on pendentives. On these, there are some polychrome angels that hold the shield of the cardinal in one hand and a custody with the anagram of the name of Jesus in the other. The dome ends by a beautiful lantern with six large windows that provide abundant light to the church.

Interior of the church

The Altarpiece

It´s almost 20 m. high and 9 wide, it is made of walnut. It´s a work, for the most part, made by Francisco Moure, and it´s dedicated to the Stma. Virgin Mary It was Commissioned by the Jesuits, whose rector, Juan A. Velázquez, gave him the sketch of the work that had to be executed.

Detail of the Altarpiece by Francisco de Moure. Black walnut. S.XVII

It consists on two bases and three overlapping bodies. The first two of these are from Moure. The rest are from his son Francisco and disciples. On top, there are three shields: on both sides the founding Cardinal shields; the one in the center, which is bigger, and now empty, should have the coat of arms of the Jesuits.

Main Altarpiece of the School dedicated to Virgin of the Antigua, work of Francisco de Moure. S.XVII

Seen from top to bottom and from left to right, they are sculpted:

1-_The Birth of the Virgin
2.- San Ignacio de Loyola.
3.- Annunciation of Mary.
4.- Visitation of the Virgin to her cousin Sta Isabel.
5.- Virgin of the Antigua, holder of the church and school, interpretation in relief of the picture in the niche on the left. It has a very baroque mantle.
6.- Adoration of the shepherds.
7.- Circumcision of the Lord.
8.- Baroque Ostensory or shrine which is topped by a sculptural group in great perfection and realism, which represents the sacrifice of Isaac.
9.- Adoration of the Kings. They emphasize the anachronistic and baroque clothes.
10.- The four evangelists are sculpted on the pedestals of the columns.
11.- On the intercolumnies are the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, strength, temperance), two on each side. These virtues are separated, by a shield of the Cardinal, so well molded and polished in black walnut that it looks like leather.

Niches and side chapels


Praying statue in bronze, of Cardinal Rodrigo de Castro

Niche on the left (as we look). Praying statue in bronze, of Cardinal Rodrigo de Castro, made by Juan de Bolonia. It was commissioned by the Cardinal himself. Underneath the statue it´s its sepulcher, where the remains of the Cardinal are dressed in cardinal robes (it was verified at Christmas 1942). He died in Seville in 1600, and three years later, by he was transferred to this place because of  his testamentary disposition


Niche on the right (as we look). Picture of the Virgin of the Antigua, that the cardinal had in his oratory of the episcopal palace in Seville and that is a copy of the Cathedral patron Saint


Pulpit.- Renaissance style. It rests on a beautiful eagle with outstretched wings. In its hexagonal contour four West Church doctors are sculpted: S. Jerónimo, S. Ambrosio, S. Agustín and S. Gregorio Magno. On the front it´s the coat of arms of the Pious Schools, work of Fr. Elio Rodríguez, which replaced that one of the Jesuits  which was scraped after their expulsion in 1767.


Santo Cristo.– From the Italian Valerio Cioli (1529-1599)

Santo Cristo.– By the Italian Valerio Cioli (1529-1599), He is also the author of the statues on the tomb of Michelangelo. The name and date that appear engraved on the bottom of the purity cloth of the image. It is made of marble in one piece, except the arms. It emphasizes the majestic and serene expression on his face. It is believed that it was commissioned by Felipe II for El Escorial (Madrid), but he did not like it, considering it too muscular, so he gave it to the Cardinal with whom he was very close.

“Adoration of the Kings”, Van der Goes .- It is a copy of the original, which was in this same place and whose authenticity was discovered by the art critic from Monforte D. Antonio Méndez Casal, at the beginning of the 20th century. The Board of Trustees of the College thought that it was convenient to sell the painting to preserve, restore and finish the building with its amount, until leaving the building as it is nowadays. According to testimonies of the time, it was in terrible condition. It was offered in the first time to the National Patrimony which declared itself without funds for its purchase. Permission was requested to put it on public auction and it was purchased by the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin for 1,200,000 Swiss francs = 1,262,800 pesetas at the time. The sale included one condition: to send a faithful same size copy. It is the one that is here now. In the critics´ opinion, it is so well achieved that it does not detract from the original.

Adoration of the Kings, copy of Hugo Van der Goes

Chapel of the Relics.- It is under baroque style. Many relics that the Cardinal had brought from his frequent trips to Rome were kept in it. They were deposited in the hollows of the images and figures that are in the mentioned chapel, inside gold and silver teak (normal in these cases). All of them disappeared during the three Napoleonic invasions that Monforte suffered, except the “Lignum Crucis” (two pieces of the True Cross of the Cardinal’s Pectoral Cross) and a “thorn of the crown of the Redeemer”, which are in separate reliquaries of embossed silver . They got rid of the theft by being out of this place at that time, on the occasion of some prayers to ask for rain.