The arrival of the Franciscan religious order in Puebla dates back to 1529 when New Spain was evangelized.

It was the settlers of that time who received the doctrine; however, the humble influence of the Franciscans allowed the indigenous people to trust them and allow their evangelization.

The Franciscan Convent of San Gabriel, located in the center of San Pedro Cholula, is one of the most emblematic architectural monuments of the long Mesoamerican history that developed and evolved in the Cholulteca area.

It was founded around 1529 on the land where a temple dedicated to the cult of Quetzalcoatl was located, in its interior it preserves frescoes from the time of its construction.

The murals

In the research carried out by Ana María Ashwell and published in the BUAP's Elementos magazine, she points out that the cloister contains, both in its interior and in the patios, murals from the XVI century, which were made by indigenous people. The works portray in four passages the creation of the Franciscan Order and also characteristics of the life of the Order in Cholula.

The porter's lodge and the Pilgrims' portal were restored in 2013 by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and are currently under loan from the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP).

However, some sectors of the convent are still used for the cloister of Franciscan friars. The Franciscan Library and the Fray Bernardino de Sahagún Humanistic Studies Center of the UDLAP are located in the portal.

The architectural prestige and the mural painting that survived illustrate the indigenous Cholulteca contribution to the Christian religious art of the XVI century.

A year after the restoration, the Franciscans and UDLAP have decided to open the paintings to the public.

Photos: Agencia Enfoque

Dr. Circe Hernández, coordinator of the Franciscan Library, pointed out that this is a great opportunity to learn about Franciscan history and heritage:

"The cloister is part of the convent complex that belongs to the Franciscans, it is worth mentioning that this is a living convent, since five friars of the Franciscan order currently live there, who provided all the facilities to share the pictorial collection that exists and which was restored by INAH. I consider that it is a first step to be aware that in Cholula there is a living convent that has been inhabited for 485 years uninterruptedly under the Franciscan order, who are opening the doors to share with us part of the lower cloister that was not known".

The Convent of San Gabriel is one of the oldest and most emblematic in Mexico, whose cloister has different paintings illustrating scenes from the life of the Order.

It is until now that they are completely open to the public through the Gallery of Sacred Art of the Franciscan Library that is under the custody of the UDLAP. Visiting hours are from Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 to 17:00 hours and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00 hours.

Photos: Agencia Enfoque

Read this article in Spanish here.