Fragmento de fotografía. 1927. Fuente: Luces de Modenidad. Archivo fotográfico Chilectra.

The first Franciscans arrived to Chile in October 1553. Five monks were the first to step on Chilean land, traveling from Peru to establish their convent and church. They were the second religious order to arrive to Chile after the Mercedarios. At that time, Juan de Alderete donated some land to them close to the Plaza Mayor, where they lived for eight months, and then for some reason that was not too clear they abandoned the land.

In April 1554, the Franciscans installed themselves on the land located south of the Mapocho River, which was previously assigned to Pedro de Valdivia, upon the request of the Cabildo to raise the shrine with the image of the Virgin of Socorro, a piece that he himself brought in his expedition and that survived the Indian attacks. Once the founder of Santiago died, the land was donated to the Franciscans, where they committed before the Cabildo to raise an “architectonic factory” and to place the image of the Virgin del Socorro (Patron Saint of the city) on the high altar.

In 1572, an adobe and rammed earth church is built with indigenous hand labor, which was completely destroyed after the 1583 earthquake.

They then decided to build a definite church made of lipped quarried stone and asked for help from King Phillip II who made a significant donation, allowing them to start the new construction under the direction of Fray Antonio and they were able to finish its construction three years later in 1618.

The church has a layout with a Latin cross and stone walls that has survived to date, with the exception of the tower that has been built over and over again due to the earthquakes that have damaged it, as is the case of the 1647 earthquake that completely destroyed it.

The tower seen today was built by Fermín Vivaceta in 1857, it has a neoclassical style and the clock was added becoming an urban milestone in that area of the city.

Due to the difficult economic situation that the Franciscans were going through in 1913, they sold the land corresponding to the interior cloisters of the convent, which were demolished giving place to the current Paris and Londres Streets in 1925. Similarly, in 1940 a series of transformations were made, widening the current Alameda Avenue to facilitate vehicle transit that had had significant growth during that period. However, the Franciscan temple survived the inevitable evolution of the city.

Later in 1960, the San Francisco Pro-Restoration Committee is founded in order to maintain this religious and cultural patrimony alive that is maintained from the time of the colony to date.

Currently, work is being done in a restoration project to recover the tower after the damages caused by the February 2010 earthquake.




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