Colonial Cartagena

Jesuit Convent (S. Pedro Claver)

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The construction of the Jesuit temple and convent began in 1580 and ended in 1654. The church is now dedicated to Pedro Claver, one of the Jesuits who lived and worked in Cartagena between 1616 and 1654 evangelizing enslaved Africans. In order to communicate with recently arrived captives, the Jesuits purchased bilingual men as slaves who worked as interpreters. These men lived in the rooms at the back of the convent and ate their meals in the kitchen. Some of them worked as musicians in the Jesuits’ religious ceremonies, and others performed tasks such as cleaning and making the medals and beads that Claver distributed to other Africans. Additionally, the convent’s ceramic factory depended on enslaved labor in order to provide European-style tableware to Cartagena’s most affluent families.

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