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Royal Convent of Santa Ines

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Located in the heart of the city of Ecija, the Royal Convent of Santa Ines belongs to the Order of Franciscan Poor Clares. It was first founded outside the city walls, subsequently moving to its current location, about two hundred yards from the city centre, bordering the road that led to the Sanctuary of the Patrona Nuestra Señora del Valle, after which it was named. This permanent building dates back to 1487.

According to tradition, the convent received valuable contributions from the beginning of its existence, including those of the Catholic Queen, who stayed at the convent and gave substantial alms, which were used to pay for the choir stalls, make choir books, bring water to the convent, etc. Empress Mary of Austria and Princess Isabel Clara Eugenia were also benefactors of the convent, to which they bequeathed valuable relics, among them a thorn from Christ's Crown of Thorns. Ecija's nobility and the city council held the Franciscan convent in great esteem.

The church is a great nave roofed with barrel vaults and lunettes in the main nave and with hemispherical vaults in the ante-chancel. It is richly ornamented with plasterwork, paintings of the Marian mysteries and Franciscan scenes, of little artistic value, but highly ornamental. The church was built at the end of the first quarter of the 17th century, master builders of Ecija being the creators of such a curious structure.

The main altarpiece consists of two parts: the first one is a big central ensemble with the Manifestor and side boxes for the images of St. Joseph and St. Joachim, at the bottom a tabernacle with a hemisphere topped by a lantern containing the sculpture of the Immaculate Conception. The second part of the altarpiece completes the front of the chapel and has different artistic ensembles of medium artistic value, including a relief of the history of Saint Clare and the Saracens from around 1630.

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