To our eyes, one of the most beautiful, fascinating, yet treasuring sad stories, South American monastery. Santa Catalina is a genuine city in the city of Arequipa, Peru.
At first, is the joyful beauty that strikes you, when you enter this tiny colour-bloc town. But then, even more captivating, the amazing story of this place, which is in total opposition to these “carefree” looking walls.
The monastery was built in the XVI century by and for rich women, coming from upper class (Spanish). In these times it was obvious that each family would “sacrifice” one of their children to God in order to get the divine blessing and protect the whole family… So, if you happened to be the second child, you already knew where you belonged to… However “Santa Catalina” was not for everyone… It was a 5-star cloister – only for a certain social class and almost only for those having huge wallet. The price was high: it seems that the family had to pay an equivalent of today’s 150 000 US dollars to get their child admitted… And the more they paid, the bigger house the nun was getting and the more servants and slaves she had.. (yes, you’ve read it well: as the nuns had to sacrifice their time for the prayer, they had their slaves and servants taking care of the house, cooking, etc, etc…).
The girls were very young when they first got into the monastery, around 10 years old and they couldn’t get out and have a contact with the outside world, apart from seeing from time to time the face of their parents through double bars… Their only hope to get out from the cloister before their final vows remained in marriage. If their parents were able to arrange a “good marriage” outside, they were able to get out. Apparently at this time either fate for a woman was the same… Either she was imprisoned with her wealth in a monastery or in her own home.