June 09, 2010

Peru: Arequipa

Maria de Guzman founded Santa Catalina in 1580 as a means for women from wealthy, high-class Spanish families to enter religious service.  Every nun brought a significant dowry, 25 listed items (some even brought fine English china) and between 1 - 4 servants / slaves.  Although they could not leave the convent, they lived a lavish lifestyle with concerts and parties and surrounded by fine art.

 Life was good until Pope Pius IX sent Sister Josefa Cadena to "reform" the monastery in 1825.  Things went downhill fast from there.  After a few earthquakes in the 1960s, the convent  was restored and opened to the public for tourism with proceeds helping to support the small religious population still living within these walls.

We were extremely fortunate to view "Juanita" in the Santuarios Andinos Museum as she often travels to other museums.  Juanita is still frozen and in a special glass box for viewing. (These pictures are from the museum website.)

 Johan Reinhard and Miguel Zarate discovered Juanita high on Mount Ampato.  Finding her body was amazing enough and there was even more drama during the second climb to retrieve her body.

Juanita died ~1450-1480 when she was ~11-15 years old.  There is reason to believe she was a religious sacrifice (bashed in head, so far from home).   Her tissue has provided many insights into Incans of her time.

No comments: