Founded: 18th c. Style: Carmelite.
Facing the impressive façade of the enclosed Convent of Santa Clara is the discrete and austere Convent of Discalced Carmelites, an enclosed order that was brought to Compostela by the Galician mystic writer María Antonia de Jesús.
The façade, built in the 18th century following the order’s own style (“Carmelite”), is very simple and features pure lines, which give it a sturdy aspect. The polychrome image of the Virgin of Carmen, patron saint of the Carmelites, stands out.
The church has a Latin-cross ground plan, while its interior emphasises the simplicity announced by the exterior. The height of the columns supporting the vault is noteworthy.
The main altarpiece, from the 19th century, tends towards neoclassicism and is dominated by the Virgin of Carmen. The side altarpieces are dedicated to the order’s founders, St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross.
The church has 2 chapels in the apse: one is dominated by the image of St. Joseph and the other by the “Virgen de las Angustias” at the time of the “Descent from the Cross.
The wall of the gospel (the left-hand wall) in the main chapel contains the lower choir, for ordinary use, and the communion window through which the nuns receive communion. The upper choir, in the last section of the nave, is used for more solemn celebrations.
The Discalced Carmelites in Santiago
Apart from the contemplative life and music rehearsals for the offices, the nuns carry out domestic chores, including looking after the garden and henhouse, make Eucharistic bread for the city’s churches and liturgical objects for outside (rosaries and scapulars). There are currently 20 Carmelite nuns in the convent in Santiago (the Rule of St. Teresa allows a maximum of 21 in each convent)