An Unknown Church in Veracruz:
A Forgotten Treasure
Brought to Life by Documents
Discovered in Spain and Mexico

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.
Special Thanks to Carmen Boone Canovas and
Enrique Pasquel for Information and Photographs

Another Story for my Grandchildren
For many years, I lived and worked in Mexico, mostly in Veracruz. It's a city with a long history, and many interesting places to explore. Now, my grandchildren are beginning to ask questions about different things in Veracruz. This is a story about an intriguing mystery that a lot of people don't know about. Since the children are learning Spanish, I've left some of the original texts in Spanish to translate for themselves.

Perhaps when they are grown, they will come to Veracruz to continue these explorations, and maybe they will also uncover other interesting stories about the vast history of this fascinating city.

Not Just Another Crumbling Old Building in an Old City
I'm not a professional historian, but when you pass by this closed building in Veracruz, almost in front of the municipality building, you can see trees beginning to grow out of the cracks in the walls high up, and you wonder what it might have been during its best days many years ago. It's remarkable that this very old and noble building still stands, in spite of being chopped up to let a street go through on one side, and small hotels are built at either end.

Today the building is abandoned, now owned by the government of the State of Veracruz which is now virtually bankrupt and can barely pay its bills.

A Little Sign that is Partially Correct
A small sign on Zaragoza Street explains that this was once the Convent of the Order of Saint Augustine. While partially true, the Augustinians did not build this magnificent building, but only occupied it until the from 1776 until the 1850s's when there were only one or two friars left.

Then it was sold in public auction to private owners who divided the building into small businesses like low rent seafood restaurants that never did well.

But, this is not just another crumbling old building in an old city, and with the help from some old documents archived in different locations in from Spain and Mexico, you may see the reason why.

Busy Streets
Veracruz is an old city
Today Veracruz looks like any other busy medium sized city in Latin America.

Yet, it is a very old city, and within it are many interesting stories, many of which are now forgotten.

However, these stories come alive in the old documents stored for centuries in the archives in certain places in Spain and Mexico.

One of these forgotten stories occurred on June 25, 1767, in which now is an old abandoned building.
Veracruz in the 1500's
Nobody Seems to Remember
Later I was told that this was partly because of the king's decree, and partly because of neglect as well as the instability of the Mexican Wars of Independence from Spain which started in 1810 and lasted 15 years.

Later invasions by foreign powers such as France, and the United States, and the Mexican Revolution reflected instability which made it difficult to preserve and build.

During its day, lasting a century and a half, this building, which occupies a whole city block in downtown Veracruz, was an important center of education and inspiration for faithful Christians of those days.
Plaque Outside the Building with the Official Story
A strong spiritual life was especially important in an area plagued by the threat of pirates, as well as malaria, or yellow fever, which could strike unexpectedly at any moment.

Later, I was surprised to find that it was in fact, a great architectural complex built by the Society of Jesus which was used as a school, a residence, and temple annex dedicated to St. Francis Xavier.

Its surviving walls have endured more than three centuries of earthquakes, cyclones, and gale force winds, the encroachment by the extension of the street Aquiles Serdán.

A Building that has Survived
Along with the mutilation of its altar and presbytery, the demolition of its magnificent dome, tower and south wing of the College in 1915-16, and the structural alterations of hotels and buildings that continued to affect its stability.

The Jesuits Arrive in 1572
Digging around in some old history books, I found that with the arrival of the first Jesuits in 1572 at what is now Antigua, Veracruz.

A small residence in Antigua was established along with two priests around 1578.
Veracruz by 1616
In addition to the evangelization of the Indians, the Jesuits also attended the needs of the slaves and the most needy people.

In 1600, Veracruz was moved from Antigua to its present location, and in 1602 the Jesuits erected a small building of wooden planks.

Veracruz Destroyed by Fire
However, these first years were not easy because the wooden building was destroyed by fire in 1606 and 1618.

However, by 1625, the Compañía de Jesús had a small residence and a chapel, this time, built of stone.

Financing Construction in 1639
It should be mentioned at this point that in Mexico and the provinces, the Jesuits financed their schools through the operation of haciendas donated or purchased by benefactors, donations, and rental properties donated or bequeathed by wealthy families.

With the donation of the Hacienda el Tecajete, near Tehuacan, Puebla, as well as an excellent administration of the finances of the hacienda, the Jesuits began the expansion of the construction of the Colegio in Veracruz, as well as the church of San Francisco Xavier.

In 1744, the Hacienda was sold to the Carmelite Order in Tehuacan, Puebla.

Church of Gesú in Rome
by Giacomo Barozzi Vignola
The Master Model Used in Veracruz
The master model layout for Jesuit churches was taken from the Church of the Gesú in Rome in 1568, designed by Giacomo Barozzi Vignola, and Veracruz was no exception.

The design of the Colegio de Veracruz is unique in what was once called New Spain.
Veracruz by 1625
Building Dedicated in 1652
Construction began shortly after the donation of the Hacienda el Tecajete, near Miahuatlan, Puebla, and dedication for the brand new Colegio building complex was held in 1652.

In the 1600's, Veracruz was the center of much of the activity for the periodic fleets of ships fleets bringing items from Spain such as olive oil, linens, and wines and other unobtainable goods in Mexico.

On the return trip to Spain, the ships took vast amounts of gold, silver, and other valuables back to Spain. During the 4 to 6 months the ships were in port, the Jesuits took care of arriving slaves who were sick.

Veracruz was the only authorized seaport on the Gulf of Mexico for 300 years, and the city prospered with many new businesses related to imports and exports.
The Gemelli Careri Report
Pirate Raid in 1683
In May of 1683, Lorencillo and his pirate horde devastated the small town of Veracruz and during 5 days systematically sacked every dwelling in the city.

The Colegio de Veracruz was no exception, and nothing was left but the building. As a result of this pirate raid, a protective wall was built around the city of Veracruz to discourage pirates.

The Ten Altars
In later years, on a visit to Veracruz in 1697, world traveler don Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri stated that on November 2, he attended mass at the church of the Fathers of the Company of Jesus.
The Walled City by ca. 1750
He said the church appeared to be very poor, and it has no more than "10 sparsely adorned altars."

Earthquakes in early 1697 almost ruined the Colegio de Veracruz, but caused no major damage in the Colegio de Oaxaca. This happened at the time Gemelli Careri was on his way from Acapulco to Mexico City.

For about a dozen years the Jesuit complex in Veracruz underwent major restoration and reinforcement starting around 1699

Even 15 years after the attack of the pirates, it was been difficult for the devotees to the different saints to begin to refurbish the altars of what was broken or stolen.

The Real Pragmática of 1767
However, all was not well with the Jesuits in Europe, especially conservative Spain. Around February of 1767, King Carlos III made the decision to expel the Jesuits from Spain and all its colonies.

From the log books sent to Spain, the banishment order was carried out in Veracruz, and other urban areas in Mexico in the predawn hours of June 25, 1767.

The Banishment Order
When Charles III of Spain gave the almost lightning order, over night everyone in the Jesuit order in Mexico was rounded up by royal soldiers and deputized citizens and were transferred to Veracruz as prisoners, under heavy guard for deportation to Spain, en route to the Papal States in Italy. There was only time enough to pack up in one day and move out the next.

In Veracruz, once the 12 occupants of the Colegio de Veracruz were escorted the Convento de la Merced, a temporary prison until their embarcation by militia troops, the lengthy inventory began.

This inventory consisted of the personal effects of the occupants, the religious items in the 10 chapels, the valuables, pledges for future religious services, and real estate.

Transfer to the Order of San Agustín
Except for the people taking the inventory and periodic occupation by troops, the building was virtually empty from June of 1767 until July of 1776, when the religious portion, such as the temple and some of the side rooms were transferred to the friars of San Agustín.

The Augustinian Convent building and two houses just north of the Convento de San Francisco were almost in ruins, and this would be a convenient move.

In exchange, the Augustinians also agreed to continue the in memoriam religious services and masses promised by the Compañía de Jesus for their donors. To sustain their living expenses, they would also continue to collect the amounts promised in these bequests.

This would also solve the moral and ethical dilemma for the Crown of previous agreements signed by the families in Veracruz for the deceased souls being prayed for and remembered. In documents dated July 9, 1776 is a formal listing of these obligations and payments to be carried out by the Augustinians.

"La Escuela Patriotica de Veracruz"
The Augustinians also attempted to carry on the work of the school, but the good friars did not have the training or experience as teachers to make it work and their school was closed. Some years later, in 1787, an attempt was made to organize a school called the "Patriotic School of Veracruz" which was approved and supported to a certain extent by the Spanish Crown.

Until that time, all the schools in Mexico, had been operated by religious orders or private individuals, and for the first time a school was authorized and funded to a certain degree by the government. You might say that the Escuela Patriótic de Veracruz was the first public school in Mexico.

The Escuela Patriótica in Veracruz functioned for the first two years, then after 5 years it was found that the original program and the proposed budget had been exceeded. In 1789, the board of directors of the Escuela requested an additional subsidy from the Crown. However it was denied in a stiff rejection letter by the King of Spain reprimanding all involved, and the school folded in 1791.

A Cannon Fabrication Shop
Also, during this time a cannon fabrication and repair shop was set up in one corner of the building to support the fort at San Juan de Ulúa. But until then, the streets of Veracruz were not cobblestoned, and the movement of the cannon carriages was damaging the streets, and caused a lot of noise which bothered the neighbors living in the area.

Colonel Marcos Keating, the Royal Artillery Commander at San Juan de Ulúa, wrote the King that the building wouldn´t resist the first of the monsoon rains requested additional funds and time for his shop.

However, due to pressure from the community, the shop was disapproved by the Crown in Spain. Keating was later transferred to the Fort at Perote, and it seems the matter of the fabrication shop in the building was dropped.

Left to the Care of the Order of San Augustine
After the closing of the school and the Cannon Repair shop, the building was left in the care of the dwindling number of Augustinians to carry on with their spiritual activities.

Perhaps it should be mentioned at this point that in additon to the Augustians, there was the parish church the Parroquia de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, the Church of the Divina Pastora, the Iglesia de Cristo de Buen Viaje, and 6 other convents or religious orders with hospitals in Veracruz at that time. The Augustinians were just one more religious order competing for support from the business community in Veracruz, and they probably didn´t have much of a budget for maintenance on such a large building.

The Abandoned Jesuit Complex in 1862-3
The Earthquake of 1794
Next a devastating earthquake struck southern Mexico with devastating results. The San Martin volcano, near Catemaco spread smoke across the area for several months making life very difficult.

There were reports from a writer that the damages to the Colegio de Veracruz from the earthquake of 1794 were greater than in Oaxaca.

He said that the church was in such shape that it should be demolished and started over from the foundation. The writer also asked God to provide the means necessary for this to happen.
Abandoned in 1880's
Augustinians forced out in 1855
It is said that by 1855 there were only 2 Augustinian friars living living in the old Colegio building and they were forced out with the expropriation of church properties to finance a federal budget deficit incurred by President Benito Juarez in 1855.

Brief Occupations by the French 1860-67
It is said that French troops occupied the building during the reign of Maximiliano, But, when Benito Juarez became president again in 1868, the building once again went into neglect.
Calle Zaragoza en 1901
Occupied the Colegio
A New Prosperity in Veracruz
In the 1890's, life began to change under the presidency of don Porfirio Díaz and new investments came to Veracruz.

With the modernization of the new Port of Veracruz (1897-1902) came an economic boom of new jobs for all levels of people.

With this new prosperity, and the end of the Spanish American War of 1898, new immigrants came from Spain to start new businesses.

In a Prized Location
Within a block or two from the docks for ships loading and unloading cargo, as well as customs offices, post office and telegraph center, the location of this very large old building was one of the most prized pieces of real estate in the bustling coastal city of Veracruz.

Julian de Aragon y Sobrino ca. 1905
Julian de Aragon Business
Aragon´s Business Fluorished for a Time
In those days, there wasn't much in the way of clothing stores in Veracruz, and one of these new businesses was started by don Julian Aragon y Sobrinos.

Don Julian purchased and dramatically remodeled the interior of the old building of the Colegio de Veracruz and opened his new clothing business.

It must have been like the Sak´s Fifth Avenue of Veracruz in those days of prosperity.

As in most businesses in those days, Don Julian and his family probably lived in the spacious rooms upstairs.
Julian de Aragon
Julian de Aragon Business
Strange Initials
The Strange Initials Solved
In Veracruz, iron works on windows were not used until into the twentieth century. It was probably when galvanized steel was invented.

Until then, all the bars on windows and lattices in the homes and businesses, were always were made of wood.

Veracruz is on the ocean, and the salt air quickly rusts anything made of iron.

In the two photos of the building in 1860, the original windows seen on the lower floor were octagonal, and high. This was to prevent view of the interior from the sidewalk, and as well as to make space on the inside walls for the altarpieces of the different chapels.

Some of the remaining vertical windows with iron gratings are from the times of the Julian Aragon's department store and still bear his initials.

The Monogram is "J A S" = Julián Aragon and Sobrino

(The photos are thanks to Enrique Pasquel, and the clarification from Carmen Boone Canovas.)
Strange Initials
Strange Initials

Restaurant Alfonso Camino and Hotel Buena Vista
El Hotel Buena Vista
The End of Good Business
Julian Aragon´s business probably flourished for several more years until don Porfirio Diaz resigned as President of Mexico in 1911, and the economic instability of the Mexican Revolution became a reality in Veracruz.

The Dome and Altar Demolished
Then, in 1915, Venustiano Carranza, functioning at that time as President of Mexico, ordered the demolition of the altar area and the dome to open an extension of Calle Aquiles Serdan to have a more direct route to the Malecon.
The Hotel Buena Vista
The Front Entrance Blocked
In the early years of the 20th Century, on the Calle Mario Molina, the entrance to the church was filled in, and this piece of the Colegio operated as the Hotel Buena Vista for many years.

Later the hotel changed hands, and the name was changed to the Hotel Santander.
The Same Building Today
The Building Today
Since those early days of the 20th century, the church building was eventually used as a warehouse for a soft drink and beer distributor who later sold it to the government of the State of Veracruz. And now, the building stands empty.

The story of this building built originally in the early 1600´s is fascinating and it´s a miracle that it still stands.

For me, it's much more than just a crumbling empty old building in downtown Veracruz because of what it has seen happen around it for almost 500 years. And that it still exists.

How the Search Began
The search began several years ago when I found an old map and which is now a forgotten dirt road. Later I found it was the Jesuit Trail to Paso de Ovejas, and perhaps the Third Camino Real in Veracruz.

Later came a series of stories about exploring the old trail all the way from the tropical lowlands of the Gulf of Mexico to the cool mountain pastures of Veracruz.

After these explorations, I met Carmen Boone Canovas who has spent many years unearthing the stories of the Compañía de Jesus in Mexico. She showed me the outside of the magnificent but abandoned building in downtown Veracruz, which the locals called the Ex Convento of the Augustine Order.

Until then, very little was known about fascinating story about the people who had started construction on this magnificent edifice built in 1639.

Time and Money at the Same Time
Later, between projects at work, I finally had both time AND the money at the same time! I had heard about some old documents about Veracruz stored away in Spain. And now I could go to Spain to see if they existed.

In fact, this was a process which became two trips to Spain spaced one year apart. It wasn´t easy to locate these documents and purchase the copies and it took some time.

Summary of the Preliminary Inventory Documents Sent to Spain
The Next Step in the Project
After two trips to different parts of Spain, I now had something like 2,400 copies of hand written documents in 7 binders reporting the full event a story to the king of Spain!

The next question was what to do with them.

When you have many documents like this, it's one thing just to read them, but it's more important later to be able to quickly locate information such as names of people, dates, and places, and how to organize them in order.

This next step was a long one and took several months and many hours of transcribing summaries of these documents onto an Excel Sheet that could be sortable basically by page number, and date of the document.

Still Missing
At first, the summary of the documents seemed complete, then I noticed several things were missing.

One was the engineering drawings mentioned in the summary. The other were the items and religious objects from the church.

Then, through a friend of a friend I found a possible location for this file in Spain, and was able to purchase copies of 60 more old documents.
Sample Page of a Document
And this led to new discoveries!

A New Story of Elegance
Visualizing the Past
The Temple of the Colegio de San Francisco Xavier had 10 chapels(separate altars) with many of interesting objects. This was the inventory of the main altar along with objects from the 10 chapels!

Sometimes, you almost feel immersed in the era of 1767, and can visualize the hand of the scribe, Antonio Mendez, laboriously writing out all the documents for Governor Felix de Ferraz.

There were also times when his hand was almost shaking from fear, others from boredom, or perhaps the heat of spring weather the following year, of course with no air conditioning or floor fan!

It almost feels like you are there, under the high ceilings of the church of the Colegio de Veracruz, going through the inventories, looking over Don Antonio's shoulder.

Below is the location of the Colegio de San Francisco Xavier as it must been in June of 1767.

Veracruz by 1874

From the Archives in Spain and Mexico
Note: This was the beginning of the reports of the official inventory of the church sent directly to King Charles III in Spain.

The Junta de Temporalidades was the committee formed by the King to be responsible for the coordination of the process of inventory and eventual disposal of the material goods in possession of the Colegio de San Francisco Xavier in Veracruz. My copies of documents are from 1767 to 1799.

It should also be remembered that all these material goods listed in the report had been donated for several generations by wealthy families in Veracruz, benefactors of the Jesuit style of education. The Jesuits really didn't own anything and felt they were only custodians of the property of the faithful.

The names of these wealthy families in Veracruz are named in the documents along with their contributions. I am not listing the names simply because there are simply too many.

However, all that changed when the Expulsion Order was executed in Veracruz on June 25, 1767, and the first report of the belongings of the building which included the church, personal effects of the Jesuits, and properties began the same day. An interim report of the preliminary inventory was issued to the King one month later, and can be found in Spain.

Below are the parts of the official manuscripts of the inventory as reported and sent to King Charles III of Spain:

Razón - En trece (13) de diciembre de mil setecientos setenta y seis (1776) entregué este expediente original para lo que se manda en el auto antecedente a Don Antonio Méndez. Doy fe = Castillo

"Certificación. Don Antonio Méndez, Teniente de Infantería, agregado al Regimiento de la Corona de Nueva España y Secretario de las Temporalidades de los Ex Jesuitas, por lo pertenecientes a las del colegio que tenían en esta ciudad, certifico: que el día veinte y siete (27) de julio de mil seiscientos sesenta y siete, se que se hizo inventario de la Iglesia de dicho colegio, se halló existente en los altares y cuerpo de ella como " adorno fijo lo siguiente =

Interior View of Entrance
El Altar Mayor -
Este se compone todo de madera, dorado,

Tiene en el nicho principal del Retablo la imagen de San Francisco Xavier como Patrono del Colegio: "

"En el superior la de San Ignacio Loyola, y a los lados repartidos los Doce Apóstoles ="

"Una Granada de madera pintada de azul, dorada por fuera, y por dentro forrada de terciopelo carmesí con galón de oro: "

"Tiene de alto la granada como cinco varas, y las puntas de abajo descansan a los lados sobre dos zoclos de madera jaspeados de azul y blanco;"

"Dentro de la granada esta el sagrario que es de dos cuerpos, y en lo superior del Baldoquin en que se pone el Divinísimo, formado todo de madera cubiertos de plancha de plata con flores sobredoradas, en cada lado del Baldoquin hay tres candeleros o albortantes de plata: "
Interior View of Entrance
"En el nicho del segundo cuerpo esta una Imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe con su vidrio, y en el remate otro más pequeño."

También con su vidrio en que está una cruz de oro de filigrana: el Baldoquín tiene un velo fondo de plata y flores moradas con galón y fleco de plata: en la mesa del altar una ara grande:

Un frontal de madera plateado y dorado y una tarima correspondiente:

"Al lado del altar hay un farol con cuatro vidrios ordinarios, en que se ponía la luz del Divinisimo;"

"Sobre la puerta que le corresponde esta dos Cuadros como de siete varas de alto y el ancho correspondiente,

El uno del corazón de Jesús y otras varias Imágenes, y el otro de la Santísima Virgen y señor San Joseph, ambos con sus Marcos de Madera dorados y pintados de encarnado:"
Side Entrance from the Gallery
Delante del altar mayor está pendiente una lámpara de plata mediana:

El Presbiterio está solado con losas de jaspe de Genova:

Sobre la puerta de la sacristía y en el frente que le corresponde estando cenefa de madera pintadas y doradas como de dos varas de largo de que estan pendientes dos cortinas de Yndianilla ordinaria que viven de antepuerta:

"En el mismo Presbiterio esta dos bancas una de caoba que tiene como de seis varas de largo, y otro de cedro como de vara y media, y al bajar del Presbiterio hay un barandal de madera que sirve de mesa de comulgatorio ="

En El Crucero:
1. Altar de Nuestra Señora de la Luz =
"En el crucero bajando del Presbiterio al lado de la epístola está el Retablo de Nuestra Señora de la Luz, dorado con las Imágenes debajo Luis Gonzaga, San Estanislao de Cosca y San Juan de Dios de talla y estofados:"
20th Century Stairway to the Upper Gallery
La Imagen de Nuestra Señora que corresponde a este altar esta en el aposento del Padre Tomás Pérez, y está tapada la obra con una cortina de coleta negra ="

2. Altar de Nuestra Señora de Dolores =
En la parte principal de este lado del crucero está el retablo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores que sirve a la congregación se compone de cuatro cuerpos de madera dorados:

En el nicho principal está la Imagen de la Santísima Virgen: tiene el marco de plata labrada con unas letras de plata en campo dorado que dicen Mater Dolorosa:

Al pie del nicho de la Santísima Virgen está el cuadro de San Francisco Xavier que del naufragio del Navío el Vizcaíno en el año de mil setecientos sesenta y cinco (1775) (N.B. Fue en 1665, no 1775) vino a esto colegio con su marco de plata su vidrio y una cortina de damasco encarnado con galon de oro: al lado del nicho principal hay otras varias imágenes de talla y pintura que hacen colateral;
The List is Too Long
The list of items that were donated to the large church of the Colegio de San Francisco Xavier by the wealthy families during the previous 100 years or so, is very long. The lists here are to only give a partial idea of the inventory, and I won't bore you with a lot of the additional details found in the manuscripts in Spain.

View from the Upper Gallery
3. Altar de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe =
Al bajar del Presbiterio al crucero por el lado del evangelio está un retablo de madera dorado:

"En el nicho principal un lienzo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, de bajo otro lienzo de San Francisco de Borja con su vidriera,

Y en superior otro de la Santísima Trinidad con otros lienzos chicos de varias imágenes que están a los lados,

Plus 11 Other Items...

As one can imagine the list of items donated by the wealthy families during the previous 100 years or so, is very long.

4. Altar de la Santísima Trinidad =
En la parte principal de este lado del crucero está un Retablo de la Santísima Trinidad con tres cuerpos dorados:

En el nicho principal esta las tres divinas personas:

Plus 6 Other Items...

View of Parque Obregón
also known as el Parque de San Antonio
from the Upper Gallery
Las Capillas:
5. Capilla de San Miguel =
Un retablo de madera con el fondo encarnado y una tabla sobre dorada:

En el nicho principal de la imagen de Arcángel San Miguel a los lados la de San Antonio Abad y la de San Francisco de Paula y delante del nicho de San Miguel puesto otro con fondo azul y talla dorada con una Imagen de Nuestra Señora de Concepción:

En uno de los Pilares de esta Capilla hay formado un Badoquin de madera con el fondo encarnado y algunas piezas sobredoradas en que se halla una lamina de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de dos tercios de largo con su vidriera.

6. Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Covadonga =
Un retablo de madera con el fondo encarnado y la talla sobre dorada:

"En el nicho principal un lienzo de Nuestra Señora de Covadonga,"

Plus 5 Other Items...

One Corner of the Upper Gallery
7. Capilla de Santa Ana =
"Un Retablo pequeño de un cuerpo de madera con su remate todo dorado en el nicho principal la imagen de Señora Santa Ana,

Plus 11 Other Items...

8. Capilla de Santa Rosalia =
Un retablo de un cuerpo con su remate todo de madera dorado:

"en el nicho principal una Imagen de Santa Rosalía con su vidriera de dos piezas, el báculo y calabacito que tiene la Santa es de plata,"

Plus 4 Other Items...

View of Parque Obregón
also known as el Parque de San Antonio
from the Upper Gallery
9. Altar de Señor San Joseph =
Un retablo de un cuerpo con su retablo todo de madera dorado:

"En el nicho principal un lienzo del SS San Joseph como de dos varas de alto, con su vidriera de dos piezas:

El marco de plata con cuatro albortantes de los mismo:

Una cortina de tela encarnada:

"Dos leoncitos de talavera de china y cuatro ramilletes de papel, y seda en sus pies de madera:"

Plus 10 Other Items...

An Upper Gallery Balcony
10. Capilla de los Santos Apostoles San Simon y San Juan =
Un retrato de un cuerpo con su remate todo de madera dorado:

En el nicho principal un lienzo de dos varas con las Imágenes de los Santos Apostoles

"San Simon y San Judas Tadeo, y a los otros dos lados dos lienzos iguales de San Nicolás Tolentino y San Nicolás de Bari:"

"Un niño Jesús como de dos tercias de alto con su túnico de terciopelo carmesí galoneado de plata,"

Plus 6 Other Items...

View of Calle Zaragoza
Cuerpo de la Iglesia =
Siete confesionarios:

"seis bancas grandes, y seis medianas:"

y once campanillas que sirven en los altares.

A Break for Lunch
"Y siendo la hora del mediodía, mando dicho Gobernador suspender esta diligencia para continuarla por la tarde a la hora acostumbrada:" que se retire el Padre Rector con un oficial; y que se cierren las puertas de la sacristía y de la Iglesia:

"Lo que ejecutase así se retiró su señoría, el señor vicario y demás señores asistentes, firmando esta diligencia, y Yo, el escribano ="

Felix de Ferraz = Gregorio Joseph Suarez = Basilio Gascon = Nicolas Martinez de Fontes = Francisco de Torres = como secretario de Gobierno Antonio Mendez--

Continuing after Lunch
"En la ciudad de la Nueva Veracruz en dicho día diez y ocho (18) de Julio de mil setecientos sesenta y siete años (1767), ahora que son las cuatro de la tarde, que está el Señor don Felix de Ferraz, Comisario Exectutor en esta causa en el Colegio de la Compañía de Jesús, con el Señor Vicario Juez Eclesiástico Don Gregorio Joseph Suarez, el Padre Rector Ignacio Xavier Blanco, que acaba de llegar, y los señores de asistencia, mandó su Señoría se continue el inventario de las alajas de la Santisima Virgen de los Dolores; y que se haga con el debido conocimiento se hizo venir a Don Jacinto Perez, Maestro y Platero:"

Y mediante que esta operación está prontamente concluida: "y que tiene entendido su señoría que a lo que es fabrica de Iglesia pertenecen varios maderages, ya de tronos de Imágenes, ya de altares y otras piezas sueltas, empero que una Ordenanza llamase a Joseph Agustín Maestro Carpintero: "y que habiendo llegado, se extendió en la forma siguiente:

Window Bars Bearing the Aragon Initials
Nicho de la Santisima Virgen de los Dolores =
"La Peana de la Santisima Virgen es de madera de una vara de largo y media vara de alto, forrada de plata con siete tarjetas de pita sobre doradas:"
Un corazón de oro liso:
una Daga de oro con cuatro esmeraldas:

Plus 12 Other Items...

Coro y Tribuna =
"Un órgano nuevo de tres varas de largo, y como siete cuartas de ancho, con todas sus piezas correspondientes:"

"Una banquita como de media vara de largo en que se sentaba el organista, y una banca de mas de tres varas de largo en que se sentaban los Padres="

Campanario =
"Tres campanas de mayor a menos y una campanita con que se llamaba a misa que esta fuera del campanario, y tres iguales de mayor a menor ="

A Small Upper Niche
Oratorio Interior =
"Un cuadro de altar que coge todo el frente de la Capilla interior con la Santisima Virgen, San Juan Nepomuceno, San Ignacio, y otras imágenes con su marco dorado de una de una cuarta de ancho="
Una ara mediana=
Unos manteles con encaje ordinarios=

Plus 20 Other Items...

Sacristia =
Un espejo de más de vara de largo y como tres cuartas de ancho con su marco de caoba =

Una lamina del Señor San Juan Nepomuceno con su marco y vidrio de mas de una vara de largo y tres cuartas de ancho que pertenece al altar de Nuestra Señora de la Luz =

Una mesa de caoba ovalada de una pieza y encima de ella un crucifijo tallado =

Una mesa de altar =

Plus 17 Other Items...

Original Blue Paint Visible since the 20th Century
Continuation of the Report to the Viceroy:
"Y para que conste, y qué de todo lo expresado(que separé de los pasajes en que se encontró y deposité en poder del Administrador de las Temporalidades Don Pedro de Cos para su debida custodia y seguridad) se entregue lo que corresponde a los Reverendos Padres Agustinos, y a más de los ornamentos varios sagrados, Lámparas, y Arañas de plata, se separe cualquiera"

"Otra cosa que se gradúe de adorno fijo, con presencia de los prevenido por el Exmo Señor Virrey en diez y siete (17) de septiembre de esta año en conformidad de lo acordado por la Real Junta Superior de Aplicaciones, lo formé en la Nueva Ciudad de Veracruz en trece (13) de diciembre de mil setecientos setenta y seis (1776) = Antonio Méndez, Secretario de Temporalidades."

Other Comments regarding the Objects Returned to their Original Owners:
Notificación =
"En el mismo dia Yo el Escribano, hice saber de ruego y encargo el auto antecedente para lo que en el se contiene al Señor Don Gregorio Joseph Suarez, Vicario Foraneo Juez Eclesiastico de esta ciudad en su persona, estando en la Casa de su morada, quien enterado de su efecto está presto a certificar lo que le conste sobre los particulares reclamados de ello doy fé = Manuel de la Rosa y Castillo Escribano Real"

Certificacion =
"Don Gregorio Joseph Suarez, Vicario Foraneo, Juez Eclesiastico, visitador de testamentos y examinador synodal de este obispado, certifico en la mejor forma que puedo y el año me permite:"

"que con el motivo de la mucha estrechés y familiaridad que de muchos tiempos a esta parte tuve con los Regulares expulsos de esta ciudad me es constante que todas las alajas y muebles pertenecientes a los Altares de la Santisima Trinidad, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, y de la Luz, fueron donadas por varios Devotos interirvos;" y que de los fondos del colegio nada se gastó en ella:

"Que la Lampara que servia en el altar mayor se hizo de un Navío de plata que con ocasión del Naufragio de la Fragata la Vizcaina contó su comandante, y toda la plata labrada del servicio del altar y servicio de la capilla de Señor San Joseph, fue donada por Doña Josefa Saenz Rico."

"Asimismo me consta que por fallecimiento de Doña Ana Maria de Palacios de quien fui Albacea y Heredero hice de sus bienes donacion a Nuestra Señora de la Luz de un aderezo de diamantes, un ahogadon, y manillas de perlas con sus canoadillos de oro y diamantes:"

"Unas hebillas de oro guarnecidas de esmeraldas y varias sortijas con prendas preciosas, y otras prendas, las que con mi licencia se vendieron para la fabrica de la Lampara y frontal de plata."

Y para que conste y obre los efectos que hay lugar en virtud de lo pedido por el Reverendo Padre Predicador Jubilado Padre Miguel Hernandez Prior Actual del Colegio de San Francisco Xavier de Religiosos Agustinos de esta ciudad asi lo certifico y pongo aqui la presente en la nueva ciudad de la Veracruz en nueve (9) de abril de mil setecientos setenta y ocho años = Gregorio Joseph Suarez =

Destination of other Objects from the Church of San Francisco Xavier:
According to a Real Provision of March 6, 1773, the items not claimed by the original donors, were divided into 3 classes: first, second, and third. First and second class items would be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Third class items would be given to the poorer parishes in the area around Veracruz as follows:

Orden =

El Hospital Real de San Carlos
"El Administrador de las Temporalidades don Pedro de Cos entregará al contador del Hospital Real de San Carlos Don Joseph Barreda, tomando su recibo a continuación,"

"Los cuatro ornamentos completos,"
"Una alva,"
Plus 4 Other Items...

"Veracruz, veinte y tres (23) de julio de mil setecientos ochenta y dos (1782) = Joseph Carrion y Andrade = Por mandado del señor Presidente = Antonio Mendez, secretario de la Junta." ... "Es copia de la letra de la orden y recibo original que queda en esta Secretaría de Temporalidades de mi cargo a que me refiero y para que conste, pongo el presente."

Veracruz veinte y ocho (28) de febrero de mil setecientos ochenta y cinco = Antonio Mendez -

Distribución =
Distribución de las alajas de plata primera clase y de los ornamentos que existen en poder del Administrador de Temporalidades de la Ciudad de la Nueva Veracruz =

Nueva Veracruz para su Parroquia =
Un copon grande =
Cuatro calices =
Una custodia sobredorada con treinta y cuatro marcos =
Plus 6 Other Items...

Para la Capilla de la Divina Pastora en la propia ciudad de Veracruz =
Un capillo de tizú y un ornamento de Damsco blanco con galon de oro =

Capilla de Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje =
Una casulla de damasco blanco =
Otra tambien de damasco carmesi con galon de plata =
Plus 4 Other Items...

Capilla de San Sebastian =
Dos manteles de bretaña =

Parroquia de San Juan de Ulua =
Una custodia de plata sobredorada con seis marcos =
Un pie para la misma custodia =
Plus 3 Other Items...

Pueblos de la comprehensión de Veracruz:
Medellín =
Un caliz =
Una casulla bordada de oro y plata =
Una estola con su bolsa de corporada para la comunion =
Dos singulos de cordon de hilo blanco =
Un irio de damasco encarnado =
Plus 4 Other Items...

Alvarado =
Una sobrepellice de estopilla y dos misales =

Tlacotalpan =
Un cupon sobredorado =
Un caliz =
Plus 3 Other Items...

Tlaliscoyan =
Una capa pluvial de tela de oro =
Una casulla de damasco blanco =
Otra de damsco carmesi =
Plus 3 Other Items...

Antigua =
Un cupon =
Tres fundas de damasco morado que servian para el viernes Santo =
Un almaisal de damasco tambien morado =
Una palia de tela de oro y plata =
Plus 1 Other Item...

Voca del Rio =
Dos palias de tela de oro y plata =
Otra de damasco carmesi =
Tres misales =
Plus 12 Other Items...

Nautla =
Una casulla de damasco carmesi con galon =
Un mantel de bretaña =
Plus 4 Other Items...

Puebla y Mayo siete (7) de mil setecientos ochenta y cinco (1785) = señalados con una rubrica del Ylmo Señor Obispo de Puebla --

The Leftover Treasures: Shipped to Spain
In spite of the inventory and distribution of the adornments of the altar and 10 chapels of the temple area dedicated to San Francisco Xavier in Veracruz, apparently there were still some items left. In one of the almost obscure pages of one of the many manuscripts reviewed, these brief final notes were found:

"...La Plata labrada perteneciente a este colegio de segunda y tercera clase, se remitió a España en 4 cajones y peso de 1,025 marcos, 14 adarmes que a 6 pesos 4 reales por no estar quintada fue su valor en este Reyno de 6,673 pesos 2 tomines que en el año 1794 se remitieron en el Navío de Guerra Santiago La America en que haya razon que en España tuvo mayor valor para bonificarlo en el total de caudales remitidos, hasta fin de 1797. =

Con lo expuesto queda finalizado este colegio de Veracruz sin que hay existencia alguna en el pues la libreria se perdió comida de comeje y los demás muebles con el discurso tiempo.
Contaduria General de Temporalidades.
Mexico 29 mayo 1799 = Bernardo Faxardo Cobarrruvias..."

Here is my rough translation to English:

The hand carved silver of second and third class belonging to this school was sent to Spain in 4 crates with a weight of 1,025 marcos, 14 adarmes,that at 6 pesos, 4 reales, without taking into account the Royal commission of 20%, its value in this Kingdom was 6,673 pesos, 2 tomines, that in 1794 were sent in the warship "Santiago La America", which was reasoned it had greater value in Spain, to credit the total value submitted through the end of 1797. =

With what is expressed above, this finalizes the accounts of the school of Veracruz without mentioning the library which was lost, eaten by termites as well as the furniture during the passage of this time.

Contaduria General de Temporalidades.
Mexico 29 mayo 1799 = Bernardo Faxardo Cobarrruvias

One wonders where the precise items in the 4 crates sent to Spain were catalogued. Maybe these documents and their disposal in Spain are buried somewhere in the Archivo de las Indias in Sevilla, Spain. This might mean another trip to Spain! Still it will take some more digging.

Perhaps One Day Recognition Will Come
In its strategic position facing the sea, sometimes on the front lines surrounded by cannon fire and bullets, maybe one day the ex-Jesuit city block will be recognized as something more than just another abandoned building. Much of the remarkable story behind is still undiscovered. Perhaps one day this building and the stories of the families who so generously donated and bequeathed the objects at the Colegio de San Francisco Xavier will be given the recognition that is their due.

A Noble Building that has Survived our Generation, So Far
Like many old buildings in Veracruz, this building has survived the neglect of the present and recent past generations. At least until now. Perhaps a later generation will do a better job. Maybe all that can be hoped for is that the present generation will not cause any additional damage to this great edifice which can be appreciated by the peoples of many countries.

As for me, I'm OK with the present, and plan to continue searching for the old documents in Spain for answers to many of the mysteries of what now is the forgotten past in Veracruz.

In the meantime, the listing of real estate properties confiscated during the expulsion of the Jesuits in Veracruz was also found among these documents. Perhaps one day, more missing files about this building will be found in Spain, too. If I find anything else, I'll let you know.

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