San Ignacio Church

Bogotá, Colombia


San Ignacio Church, located in the Bogotá historic district of La Candelaria, was begun in the early seventeenth century under the supervision of Juan Bautista Coluccini, a Jesuit priest who oversaw the construction of the church from 1610 until his death in 1641. Built in the Italian Renaissance and Baroque styles, construction of the church also incorporated elements from the Mudejar tradition. The church is believed to be modeled after the fifteenth-century Sant’Andrea Basilica by Leon Battista Alberti in Mantua, Italy. San Ignacio has a monumental arched entrance framed by large-scale pilasters and topped with a broken pediment. The interior of the church has a barrel-vaulted ceiling with painted and gilded decoration. Spanish artist Pedro de Laboria created the Baroque altar and many of the sanctuary’s sculptural reliefs. The exterior and interior of the church have been damaged by a failing roof. The destabilized roof structure has caused deterioration of the stucco walls and of the highly decorated ceiling of the sanctuary.

How We Helped

In 2003, the Ministry of Culture of Colombia and the Universidad Javeriana initiated a campaign to restore the Church of San Ignacio, starting with the development of the studies for the structural consolidation of the central dome. WMF joined their efforts in 2006 and supported the replacement of the roofs over the East Crossing, the Chapel of El Rapto and a storage area, and the restoration of the façade of the Museum of Colonial Art. In 2010 WMF assisted with the restoration of the wooden vaults of the first bay of the nave, and the crossing. The damaged structural elements were replaced, and the decorative elements were removed, conserved and reinstalled. The adjacent masonry walls and arches were consolidated and a new lime stucco was applied. The work was performed by the restoration team of the Javeriana University (Instituto Carlos Arbelaez Camacho). The next step is the completion of the conservation work of the interior finishes and artistic elements of the church.

Why It Matters

San Ignacio Church is one of Colombia’s most celebrated churches and it is one of the most important monuments in Bogotá’s historic center. The church is an important example of Jesuit architecture and the building is a fusion of both Old and New World styles.

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