The conventual temple of San Francisco is a religious temple of Catholic worship that belongs to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Puebla de Los Ángeles, dedicated to the Five Wounds of San Francisco.
It was the first convent established in Puebla City. It is located in the oldest area of the city. In one of its chapels, the incorrupt body of the lay brother Sebastian de Aparicio is venerated.
The history of the city of Puebla is closely linked to the first religious orders established in New Spain. The first of them, that of the Franciscan Friars Minor, had arrived in 1531 to found a primitive establishment. According to Veytia, they chose the site of the current Temple of Concordia where they stayed for three years.
By 1535 they established their definitive convent on the side of the royal road to Veracruz on the bank of the river that would be called San Francisco. Fray Toribio de Benavente, who had participated in the founding of the city, laid the first stone of the Franciscan temple, where they have been located for more than 400.
The first church was finished by Fray Miguel Navarro who was the 14th provincial of the Franciscan order for three years. At that time it was inhabited by 16 friars and three or four novices.
The convent and the temple continued to be decorated and embellished until 1767 with several periods of inactivity that lasted up to 10 years in which they raised funds to continue the works. Its building was made from the quarry extracted from the nearby hill of San Cristóbal where the Loreto and Guadalupe forts are currently located.
On the wall of the sacristy there is an inscription that says “1631” and in the annals, it is mentioned that the tower was completed in 1672 and in 1673 “a pile was placed and everything was paved.”
On a tombstone attached to the west wall of the temple tower it says:
“THIS CURATE WAS STOPPED AND IT WAS FINISHED, AND THE GENERAL BEING GUARDIAN M R FR ALONSO DE LEON LETOR OF PRIMA DE SAGRADA THEOLOGIA AND QUALIFIER OF SANTO OFICIO. 1696.”
Motolinía mentions the monastery as that of San Francisco de Los Ángeles. The temple was consecrated between 1615 and 1697 to the impression of the wounds of Ntro. Seraphic Father Saint Francis.
It should be noted that while the construction of the Puebla Cathedral began (1575), the Franciscan temple was well advanced, with the architect Francisco Becerra intervening in both works, projecting the initial layout of the first and building the choir and the chapels of the second.
For the following century, the building of a nave was covered with enervating vaults, which replaced the beamed roof that it initially had, both the church and the convent were embellished with wooden doors.
The main chapel was grated, floors were tiled, the exterior walls were tiled and the interior was decorated with numerous baroque altarpieces that would later be removed during the 19th century when it was incorrectly transformed into the neoclassical style following stylistic fashions.
Front or Facade
The temple with a single nave is reinforced with square buttresses and a parapet that finishes off the upper floor. Its facade is in the Churrigueresque style, made of quarry, brick, and tile, built between 1743 and 1767 by the architect José Buitrago.
The façade is flared, presenting three walls on the face of which stand out 14 large panels of Poblano tiles that represent vases with flowers and two smaller ones that represent God the Father and the Conquering Virgin.
The quarry facade consists of three bodies in the baroque stipe, the first starting from the bottom consists of the wooden door in the Mudejar style with the Franciscan shields, in the keystone of the arch and on the right sheet, and the Dominican one on the left sheet.
A niche with the sculpture of San Antonio de Padua continues upwards, in the second body another containing the Virgin Mary of Defense, above it a high relief representing the Stigmata or Wounds of San Francisco de Asís and on its sides the sculptures of San Antonio and San Cristóbal.
In the middle of the second and third bodies, there is a mixtilinear oculus whose opening was covered with Tecali stone instead of glass. In the niche of the last body is the figure of the Patriarch San José with the baby Jesus and on his right side San Joaquín and on the left Santa Ana.
The cornice culminates with the last niche that has the Virgin Mary and finishes the whole with the figure of the Archangel San Miguel, the Patron of the City of Puebla.
Its construction began in the year 1730 by Father Tapia, who left it at the height of the cornice. The Dominican lay father José Antonio continued the quarry work, adapting bells and finishing it in 1767.
The tower is 63 m high and stands on a hole above the vault of a small chapel, its masonry base reaches the height of the cornice of the temple, followed by two bodies with a square plan and an octagonal top being separated by thick cornices, its construction is made up of stacked structures with two campaniles on each side.
This was damaged in the upper part during an earthquake on September 19, 2017, but currently, the tower has been rebuilt.