Cloistered in San Miguel
Beatrice was a Portuguese lady-in-waiting to the Queen in the 1400s. Having good looks that raised the jealousy of the Queen, Beatrice left courtly life to become a nun and was the founder of the monastic Order of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.
Part of what made the order unique is it has no obvious purpose. Normally an order teaches, provides medicine, does missionary work, etc. This order was a great option for wealthy women whom, perhaps, didn’t like men. Or want to be a wife or mother. Or simply wanted to be well educated.
Here a gal could buy her own condo, bring along her staff and spend her days in whatever interested her, protected from the outside world.
A small cloister of this order still resides at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, often called Las Monjas (The Nuns). The local cloister was founded in 1754 by the teen aged Maria Josefa Lina de la Canal who was then the wealthiest bachelorette in San Miguel. She died at 34 having created a cloistered convent for over 70 nuns.
Her church holds many notable paintings and images from the 18thcentury.
Today’s handful of remaining nuns prepare a vast array of flowers on the altar for the day-long celebration on August 17th featuring food, music and dancing around 7AM and again at 7PM.
Most of the convent’s condos have since been converted into the Belle Artes cultural center next door.