Iglesia de la Gratitud Nacional


Address

2387 Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins Av.

Overview

This neo-Gothic church stands on the same site as the former Hermitage of St. Michael, dating from the Colonial period.

The construction of the church, designed by German architect Francisco Stolf, began in 1857, and was inaugurated 26 years later. Numerous artists took part in decking out the church, which was given the name of National Gratitude, but since 1954 it is known as María Auxiliadora.

On one side of this church was built a mausoleum chapel, where the mortal remains of the heroes of the Pacific War were buried.

It was declared a National Monument in 1989.

History

In 1699, in the middle of the Colonial period, the then governor Marín de Poveda ordered the construction of the Hermitage of St. Michael, which was to be abandoned after his death. His successor, Andrés de Ustáriz Vervizberea, was responsible for restoring it with considerable luxury, and he established here a permanent priest.

However, due to the dangerous nature of the district where it was built, the hermitage was once again abandoned until the authorities of the day decided to donate it to the Mercedarians, who annexed to it a convent and a school.

This place of worship witnessed two highly relevant historic events: the remains of the assassinated minister, Diego Portales Palazuelos were guarded there; it was there also that, facing an arch of triumph, the people welcomed the victorious General Manuel Bulnes after his victory at the Battle of Yungay, during the war against the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation.

German architect Francisco Stolf was responsible for designing the main church. The first stone was blessed in 1857, but for various reasons, the work was halted, and it was not inaugurated until 1883.

In 1879, Ramón Ángel Jara, concerned about the fate of the orphans of the Pacific War, established the National Orphanage. With the authorization of the Archbishopric, he purchased the lands of the old Hermitage of St. Michael, on the north side of the church. There he set up the chapel mausoleum with 128 niches, where the remains of the heroes of the Pacific War were buried.

In the 21st century, the church had to close due to damage caused by the earthquake of February 2010. It re-opened its doors in February 2012.

Architecture

A neo-Gothic style church, highlighted by its façade with a double pointed portico of greater than standard height. The temple has a traditional Latin cross-shaped floor plan, with a transect interrupting the rhythm of the interior arches.

The best artists of the day, including José Miguel Blanco, the first Chilean sculptor to be sent by the Government to Paris, took part in its decoration.

The high altar has a painting of María Auxiliadora.

 

Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, 2387, Santiago.