Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, Cusco

Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Perú, 2015-07-31, DD 51.JPG
Main facade
DenominationRoman Catholic
Architect(s)Flemish Jean-Baptiste Gilles, Diego Martínez de Oviedo

The Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus) is a historic Jesuit church in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, in Cusco Region, Peru. It is situated in the Plaza de Armas de Cusco, the city center. It is built on an Inca palace.[1] It is one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque architecture in Peru. The architecture of this building exerted a great influence on the development of many Baroque architecture in the South Andes. Its construction began in 1576, but it was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1650. The rebuilt church was completed in 1668.[2]


Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús in 1856 by sir Robert Clements and Clements Markham

The construction of the original church was begun in 1576 on the grounds of the old Amarucancha, palace of the Inca Huayna Cápac that was one of the largest palaces surrounding the main square of Qosqo (the Inca capital). The grounds of this palace were given to Hernando Pizarro. Years later the property was purchased from the heirs of the conquistador by Diego de Silva y Guzmán and his wife Teresa Orgoñez, who donated it to the Jesuits after their arrival to the city in 1571.

In the year 1650, the main church was devastated by the earthquake. This allowed the builders to undertake, the following year, a more ambitious reconstruction. Despite the protests of the council, the work continued according to plan, and the church was reinaugurated in 1668. It was built by the Flemish Jesuit and architect, Jean-Baptiste Gilles[3][4] (Hispanized name was Juan Bautista Edigiano), the works on the façade were directed by Diego Martínez de Oviedo,[2] Oviedo is very likely to follow the plan provided by Gilles.[4]


Seen from the Plaza Armas de Cusco

The main facade is a classic example of the Baroque style.[5]

The Jesuit college in Cusco was dedicated the Transfiguration of Christ, and the high altar features a painting of the Transfiguration attributed to the Jesuit Diego de la Puente.[6] The most notable piece of art in the church is a painting depicting the wedding of Martín García de Loyola, the nephew of Ignatius Loyola with Beatriz, the great-niece of the Inca ruler Tupac Amaru.[7]

In the church, there are paintings and sculptures by Diego de la Puente, Marcos Zapata, and Cristo de Burgos.[8][9]


The portal, a "altarpiece" type, presents towers of medium height and its stone walls have been carefully worked. Its towers appear divided into two sections, leaving the lower one free of all decoration, while the upper part has two "balconies" with projecting ledges. At the start of the bell towers, a large flown cornice joins the towers to the front, curving in a trilobed form on the top of it. Finally, the tall body of the towers has a square plan, its portholes, the octagonal dome and the pinnacles, around, define the typical profile of the Cusco bell towers.


Detail of the large painting The Wedding of Martín García Oñas de Loyola with Doña Ñusta Beatriz Clara Qoya, ca. 17th-century, anonymous painter (Cusco School). It is located inside.

Similar sumptuousness is seen in the carved tribunes and the rest of the altarpieces, some of which belonged to the defunct Templo de San Agustín. The collection of sculptures and paintings within are noteworthy. The church exhibits, under the choir of the main altar, works of art by Marcos Zapata and his assistant Cipriano Gutiérrez. On both sides of the main gate of the main altar, around the alabaster windows (huamanga), there are two canvases that represent the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola: in one he is healing the sick and in the other he is victorious over the heretics and schismatics of the Reformation.

The interior also hosts two paintings of great historical value. The first, located on the northern wall, is The Wedding of Martín García Oñas de Loyola with Doña Ñusta Beatriz Clara Qoya, which depicts the union of this Spanish captain, nephew of St. Ignatius of Loyola (who is founder of the Society of Jesus) and apprehender of the last Incas of Túpac Amaru, and the ñusta of Inca lineage, daughter of Sayri Túpac and therefore niece of Túpac Amaru. This noble indigenous woman, Beatriz Clara, was heiress of the Lordship of Yucay. Their mestiza daughter, ñusta Lorenza de Loyola Qoya, was the first Marquiss of Santiago de Oropesa, the nobiliary title that granted claim to all the properties of the Yucay Valley and the surrounding Oropesa, with the power to rule them with complete independence of the local authorities.[10] This daughter married Juan de Borja y Enríquez de Luna, son of St. Francis Borgia. Also on the canvas are Túpac Amaru and Sayri Túpac, who, like the princess, wear native clothes; behind them appears the achiwa, a kind of umbrella made of multicolored bird feathers and used only by the Inca. The second painting is on the south wall and represents the wedding of Beltrán García de Loyola with Teresa Idiáquez, daughter of Juan Idiáquez and Magdalena de Loyola.[11]

Chapel of San Ignacio de Loyola


The chapel of San Ignacio de Loyola is located to the south, and adjacent to that is the central location of the modern-day National University of Saint Anthony the Abbot in Cuzco. That building originally served the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, which was part of the University of the Transfiguration, created by Pope Gregory XV in 1621. After the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, the site served as the army barracks and prison of José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Túpac Amaru II). At the end of the 19th century it housed the Society of Artisans. The chapel is small and austere, with a single nave built in stone, and has a more sober portal than that of the main church. It is currently an exhibition hall.[11]


Complete facade
Church of la Compañía de Jesús in 1868. New York Public Library

Next to their church, the Jesuits built their own university: the University of San Ignacio de Loyola, now the premises of the National University of Saint Anthony the Abbot. Paradoxically, the two institutions were major rivals at the end of the 17th century. The stone façade dates from that time, but its treatment is much freer than that of the main church.

Its composition, like an altarpiece, is adorned with a profuse padding and with blind, purely decorative windows. Its wide hall, crowned by a dome, is unique in Cusco. The inner cloister, which contains an austere stone arcade, served as a model for others in the city. It houses the Museum of Natural Sciences.

The Seminary of San Antonio de Abad was founded in 1598 in a building on the Calle de las Nazarenas (today the Hotel Monasterio); In 1692, through a document given by Pope Innocent XII, the University of Saint Anthony the Abbot was created on its base.[11]

Chapel of Loreto

To the left of their church, the Jesuits built this chapel for indigenous peoples between 1651 and 1654. Like the previous one, it is set further back from the square than the main church, and its sober decoration does not compete with the main building. The interior of this chapel does not retain anything of the original decor.

See also


  1. ^ "CUSCO - THE COMPANIA de JESUS CHURCH IN CUZCO - PERU". www.cusco-peru.org. Archived from the original on 2016-02-09. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  3. ^ Fred S. Kleiner (2010). Gardner's Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Vol. 2 (Fifteen ed.). Boston: Cengage. p. 608. ISBN 978-1-305-64505-9.
  4. ^ a b Luis Eduardo Wuffarden. "Diego Martínez de Oviedo". Real Academia de la Historia.
  5. ^ Barbara Radcliffe Rogers, "12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cusco", planetware.com
  6. ^ Wuffarden, Luis Eduardo. "La Procession du Corpus Christi a Cuzco: La communauté de la Merci (les moines de la Merci, autel de la transfiguration)". unilat.org (in French).
  7. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2009). Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. New York: Viking. pp. 697, and plate 59.
  8. ^ "La Compañía de Jesús, Cusco".
  9. ^ "CHURCH OF THE COMPAÑÍA DE JESÚS". Archived from the original on 2016-02-09. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  10. ^ Guillermo Lohmann Villena (2001), El Corregidor de Indios en el Perú bajo los Austrias, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru - Fondo Editorial, ISBN 9972-42-435-9
  11. ^ a b c "IGLESIA DE LA COMPAÑIA DE JESUS", cusco-peru.org, archived from the original on 2018-06-17, retrieved 2018-06-15

External links

  • Images of the Church of La Compañía de Jesús, Cusco and paintings at the MAVCOR website of the Yale University.

Coordinates: 13°31′2.64″S 71°58′41.5626″W / 13.5174000°S 71.978211833°W / -13.5174000; -71.978211833

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