The church and hospital of Santa Caridad is a seventeenth-century building, belonging to the Sevillian Baroque, headquarters of the charity institution promoted by the philanthropist Miguel de Mañara. It is located in the neighbourhood of Arenal, in the old suburb of Carreteria, outside the historic Seville, limiting the back with the line where the wall that ran the city ran.
The institution of the Brotherhood of Santa Caridad dates back to the 15th century. With the appointment of Miguel de Mañara as elder brother in 1663, the completion of the church and the construction of the hospital, which would house a large number of the poor and the sick, were carried out.
The childhood of Miguel Mañara was very well-to-do, typical of a boy who belongs to a very wealthy Sevillian family, as his father came to hold important positions in the consulate of Chargers to Indies.
From very young he received an education of the gentleman's status, because his father had achieved for him the habit of knight of the Order of Calatrava, when he was eight years old, being invested after turning ten. Due to the death of his two older male brothers, he was seen as thirteen years old as heir to the important patrimony that the entailed estate obtained by his father in 1633.
With just over twenty years he was a member of the governing board of the Brotherhood of La Soledad de San Lorenzo. Four months after the death of his father, at twenty-one, he married by proxy, in August 1648, with Doña Jerónima María Antonia Carrillo de Mendoza y Castrillo, born in Guadix in 1628, while holding important positions in the municipality, the Council and the University of Merchants.
As of 1649, Mañara had 22 years, Don Miguel appears in different documents collected in the Municipal Archives and Notarial Protocols of Seville, as a public person, in authority, in business of the Council and the University of Merchants, elected deputy of the defence of the land of Seville, the Casa de la Moneda, the visit of pharmacies, the keys of the Archive and the water, the Royal Prison and the House of Innocents, and deputy of the guilds of saddlers, wardrobes, pot holders and comb manufacturer. He is a member at the meetings of the Consulate from 1655 to 1666.
According to the legends, Mañara found a beauty on the street and followed her to the Cathedral. There he discovered, when stripped, that it was a skeleton with a beautiful face. The second version is somewhat more convoluted. Mañara saw a beautiful woman on a balcony. He asks you to open the door. Instead, what falls from the balcony is a ladder. Mañara climbs to the balcony. There, lying on the ground, there is not a beautiful body, but a skeleton surrounded by four candles. This version is the one collected by Antoine de Latour, secretary of the Duke of Montpensier. The last one is different. According to this, Mañara witnessed his own funeral, saw his dead body strolled through the streets, confined in a coffin. This is how Próspero Merimée and Zorrilla collect it.
Any of the three versions, forced Mañara to repent for life and lead a chaste and poor existence. In addition, he founded the Hospital de la Caridad to assist those who only had a serious illness and hunger. The Palace of Miguel de Mañara is located on Levíes Street, 27.
Although there is no contemporary testimony of such attitude in him beyond his own confession, the name of Mañara has become synonymous with seducer, as are the verses of Antonio Machado and a seducer Mañara or a Bradomín I have been / already know my awkward dressing clothing (Portrait, in Campos de Castilla) in which he compares it with the Marqués de Bradomín of Valle Inclán. The reason for this would come from a defamatory campaign that arose as a result of the process of beatification at the beginning of the nineteenth century, explicable by the anticlericalism of liberal circles, which found a certain foundation in the baroque confession represented by the testimony of Miguel de Mañara himself ( and that according to other authors would be nothing more than a topical self-flagellation, not necessarily a description of specific behaviours):
I, Don Miguel Mañara, ash and dust, unhappy sinner, because the most of my successful days I offended the Most High Majesty of God, my Father, whose creature and vile slave I confess. He served Babylon and the devil, his prince, with a thousand abominations, arrogances, adulteries, oaths, scandals and thefts; whose sins and evils have no number and only the great wisdom of God can number them, and their infinite patience to suffer them, and their infinite mercy to forgive them.
And I write this (with pain of my heart and tears in my eyes I confess), more than thirty years I left the holy mountain of Jesus Christ and served crazy and blind to Babylon and her vices. I drank the dirty chalice of their delights and ungrateful to my lord to his enemy, not getting tired of drinking in the dirty puddles of his abominations.
The conversion of Mañara has been frequently compared with the final repentance of Don Juan, the also Sevillian character of Tirso de Molina (El burlador de Sevilla) and José Zorrilla (Don Juan Tenorio), and in fact a person has often been identified and character. The atmosphere of the nineteenth century was very conducive to that kind of irony (for example, these verses by Ramón de Campoamor: then, after the passions are extinguished, / I have seen surprising conversions).
When his wife died in Montejaque, on September 17, 1661, without having children, he entered a period of deep personal reflection, even considering entering the religious state. Miguel Mañara retired, for five months, to the Carmelite hermitage of the Desierto de las Nieves. Our Lady of the Snows was dedicated to pure contemplation. The Discalced Carmelites called deserts to their houses destined for that purpose, and in this case it was a foundation in a valley hidden in the mountainous area of Ronda, two leagues from Montejaque. There Mañara practiced prayer and penance, and what has come to be called his conversion, that is, to direct his life towards the total surrender to Jesus Christ. Not being totally resolved to enter into religion and back to Seville, he spent several months in complete desolation, trying to find a personal path to follow. Nothing comforted him and, despite his position and wealth, he was a man on whom an overwhelming loneliness hung.
According to his first biographer, Father Juan de Cárdenas, Miguel Mañara rode on horseback along the banks of the Guadalquivir River on a hot summer afternoon in 1662, when he went to meet near the current site of the church of Mr. San Jorge with a group of men, at whose head was the then older brother of the Brotherhood of Santa Caridad, Don Diego de Mirafuentes, with whom he engaged in a dialogue that would lead him to his entrance as a brother in it. The corporation was dedicated to bury the drowned people who returned the river, the dead that appeared in the streets and the executed. Mirafuentes would be a great supporter of Miguel Mañara from then on.
In the Brotherhood of Santa Caridad began exercising the office of deputy of burials and alms, which gave him the opportunity to appreciate the terrible living conditions of the poor who died on the street.
In the chapter meeting of December 27, 1663 he was elected elder brother, a responsibility he held until his death. In the third chapter that he presided over as elder brother, on February 17, 1664, he raised his idea again, now as something that would go forward with his work and the support of the brothers. From that moment, it will create a hospice, and later transform it into the Santa Caridad Hospital, building a large building, as well as the adjoining church.
The Brotherhood received an important flow of alms that, according to the most urgent needs of the poor, followed the course of charity. Thus, the alms of bread were even showy, counting by thousands the people rescued in the moments of greatest need.
Once the reform of the Brotherhood Rule and the construction of the Hospital and the church of Lord San Jorge, Mañara was raised several times to leave his position, from a position of absolute humility. He was always dissuaded by the brothers, his confessor and other religious. Thus, in 1668 he experienced such an inclination and, as Father Cárdenas relates, he was advised by his confessor, the barefoot Mercedarian Fray Juan de la Presentación, who urged him to continue his work, and that for the security of the decision to be taken, consult with three experienced and prudent priests. They all showed Mañara the path of continuing in front of the Brotherhood of Holy Charity and continuing to be the model she had exemplified. The works undertaken demanded so much dedication that he decided to request permission from the Brotherhood to move to reside in it, in simple and austere dependencies, for which he changed his former palatial residence.
In 1673 the figure of the Brothers of Penance was instituted in the Holy Charity, who were not brothers of the corporation who dedicated themselves completely to the poor, wearing a brown sackcloth and a cross. This innovation was approved by Archbishop Spinola, and it was not religious or congregants, but free people who chose to serve the poor in this way.
The functioning of the Hospice showed how precise the care of the sick poor was, which led to conversion into a Hospital. Many indigent sufferers were rejected in hospitals for being incurable, contagious or for other causes, which suggested to Mañara the idea of healing the sick in the Brotherhood of Holy Charity itself. The first hospital infirmary was inaugurated in June of 1674, with twenty-four beds, which were extended to fifty. A second infirmary was inaugurated in September 1677, and the founder still had the firm intention to continue with this work, because at the time of his death the third was carved.
He dedicated himself so much to the poor that he put his fortune and resources at the disposal of the work. This example attracted a considerable number of knights and members of the Sevillian aristocracy, who seconded their work. The Holy Charity went not only to bury the poor deceased and welcome the disinherited of fortune, but was also distinguished by the abundant alms of bread, clothes and economic resources in times of great desolation for the city, as were the floods. Although the example that Miguel Mañara supposed led many Sevillians from the privileged layers, the Brotherhood was also open to artisans and ordinary men who wanted to follow a model of spiritual perfection. Within the corporation, equality between the brothers was imposed, irrespective of their social origin and of the positions and honours they held or of which they were creditors.
Mañara died on May 9, 1679, having expressed days before his happiness to know that he was going to see God. His last will was written on March 17. In this document, he declared his soul to be the universal heir and ordered to be buried in the ground at the entrance of the Church of Charity.
Fuente: varias fuentes.