Peaceful though they might seem, the gardens of Lima’s Monasterio de San Francisco strike this writer as a somewhat odd place to hold a wedding ceremony. It’s the more than 75,000 people buried below that make this seem a bit incongruous, though this is said to indeed be a choice spot for Lima weddings.
You’ll find more than gardens and what feels like miles of bones here. These are the privileged who paid to win their spot under the monastery. Oddly, it seems, these have been shuffled into collections of specific body parts—a pile of pelvis bones, shin bones, fingers, etc. Today it is a private cemetery for Franciscan priests.
Though rocked again and again by earthquakes, there are ample other collections and collectables that have survived. You see more than 25,000 books in its library collected in the 17th Century—including an especially important antique bible, many early Peru chronicles, a dictionary, a choir book and more. Also from the 17th Century you find frescoes of angels. You will spot a last supper painting with cuy and chilis, as you have been on the lookout for ever since visiting the Cuzco Cathedral.
Devotees of St Francis of Assisi’s example will find much to love here. Murals explain his teachings, philosophy and history —from vows of poverty, to loving animals and nature, to helping tend to lepers.
It’s actually still a living monastery, with 40 monks invisible to the hordes of tourists flooding in throughout the day.
If you find pictures from the interior of Monasterio de San Francisco, do know that they violate the rules and desires of the church.
Click here to read more Picture this Post travel stories by Amy Munice with photography by Peter Kachergis.