The San Antonio Catholic University has been conceived as a convivial educational project that revolves around the active presence of students, professors and other members of the university community in the campus facilities.
On an area of approximately 25,000 square meters, of which 14,500 are built, and the next annex of another 200,000 destined for gardens, parking, sports facilities and university residence; 4 km away. The Monastery of Los Jeronimos (18th century) is located in an unbeatable, well-connected environment, which combines peace and quiet. The Monastery, together with its Baroque church, has been declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument and forms the so-called Campus de Los Jeronimos, headquarters of the San Antonio de Murcia Catholic University (UCAM).
The Campus consists of spacious and luminous classrooms, a library, an assembly hall, meeting and work rooms, computer, multimedia and language rooms, laboratories and a cafeteria- dining room.
History of the Monastery
The Jerónima Order has had two convents in the Region of Murcia. One, the hospice of Caravaca, founded in 1581 and moved in 1638 to the definitive house, opposite the Baño de la Vera Cruz, which survived until the disentailment of 1835. The second, of greater entity was the Monastery of Los Jerónimos, 4 km from the city of Murcia, called El Escorial Murciano because of its colossal architectural mass.
Between 1443 and 44 the dean D. Alfonso Oña wanted to establish the Jeronimos in a place close to the city, for which he bought several estates in Puebla de Soto, but his premature death prevented him from carrying out his plans.
With the name of San Pedro de la Ñora, taking the same name as the parish of that town, the monastery was founded, first in the place of La Ñora in 1574-1578 by Don Alonso Vozmediano de Arróniz, (whose coat of arms shows the blue band of Alfonso Onceno with his two dragons in gold field and by orla eight cauldrons. The military flags that appear display the African crescent in memory of his services to the Emperor Carlos V in the African campaign) who gave him all his goods and property to link his lineage and his military triumphs to an immortality that the weapons would not have given him, and to have, as is to be expected, a church where he was buried, as a figure in the inheritance of Don Alonso to the order of San Jerónimo in 1579.
Following the flood of 1648 it was decided to move it to a more suitable site to safeguard it from the flooding of the Segura River. The new set of convent and church was built by the monk Jerónimo, Fray Antonio de San José, expert in constructions and popularly called "the friar of the Ñora" and was inaugurated by the bishop Tomás J. de Montes on February 1st, 1738. It seems that the monastery was already finished years before the church, which was inaugurated on the above-mentioned date. From then on, the friars received a multitude of legacies and donations that enriched the convent economically and artistically.
The Hieronymites colonized a large part of the Huerta de Murcia, especially the Urdienca.
In the "Monumental Catalogue of Murcia" written in 1905-07, the building is described as grandiose, of vast proportions, solid construction and severe classical style that contrasts with the "elaborate Churrigueresque exorns that the temple has" in whose presbytery the golden tablets of the main altarpiece were displayed (today disappeared and replaced by another neoclassical one of less quality), The church has a large number of rooms, which are decorated with leaves and angels on the base, the entablature, the niches and the circular pediment which ends with the effigy of the Faith between two angels dressed in a colossal garment in the centre on a cloud of glory. The other baroque sculptures placed on the shelves and side niches, such as that of St. Michael, which occupies the central one, are, however, more correct works and show that it was another more skilful artist who carved them. In the transept, next to the Gospel, was built the tomb of the founder Don Alonso Vozmediano de Arróniz, Mayor and Captain General of Iusticia Mayor that was of the fortress of Bujía by the Emperor Don Carlos e Señor de los dos lugares de La Ñora.
Among his works of art was the Penitent Saint Jerome of Salzillo (now in the Cathedral Museum) located in the apse chapel on the side of the epistle, a Dolorosa attributed to the same author (currently in a private collection in Murcia). Most of the sculptures were moved to the Church of San Agustín, in Murcia, and the best works of art that existed there have disappeared. Among other artistic objects coming from La Ñora that ended up in this last church, it is worth mentioning: An organ, an immaculate, attributed to Salzillo (now in the cathedral), two praying angels that were in the chapel of Our Lady of Arrixaca. In the dressing room of the main altarpiece of San Agustín was placed the sculpture of San Andrés, also attributed to Salzillo, a Christ of the Souls also by the same sculptor; a San Roque, perhaps from Salzillo's workshop and two angels kneeling before a crucifix, and an image of San Antonio along with numerous paintings that were relocated in the cathedral.
At the beginning of the 19th century, twenty-six religious lived in the monastery. Very important were the services rendered during the War of Independence, the yellow fever of 1811-1813, the famine and other calamities, source of abundant subsidies and asylum for the authorities.
In the revolutionary period of the early 1820's, the Monastery was extinguished, becoming the property of the State and when it was given back to the religious, in 1823, the possession of the same, it was only to renew a decade later the order of definitive expulsion.
Dispossessed of its goods, it dispersed its inhabitants. Meanwhile, the abandoned building was used as a home for the sick in the Asylum of Murcia, during the cholera of 1855, also for the asylum seekers of La Misericordia; a blood hospital in the cantonal period of Cartagena.
From 1835 onwards the monastery suffered numerous lootings and abandonments. In 1870 it was plundered and turned into a fortress; the same batteries placed on the roofs attracted enemy bullets causing great damage.
Already in the time of the bishop Landeira it could be restored and freed from the ruin thanks to the clergy and the ecclesiastical authorities and to its subscription promoted among the clergy of the diocese.
In 1878 the Bishop Sheriff gave it to the Jesuits. The Jesuits made use of it for about a century, successively fitting it out as a house for spiritual exercises, a novitiate of the Society, a school of first letters, a center for industrial expertise, etc. Part of the building was also inhabited by the order of religious "sisters of Christ the King" who remained there until a few years ago.
Declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument (March 6, 1981), it has been externally restored.
The information that takes us from the beginning of the century to the fifties clearly leaves a regrettable situation as far as the use of the monastery is concerned, since it was occupied during the Civil War (1936-39) and later the Air Force used it as a training barracks (eagle of the entrance to the Church); although the work carried out by the Jesuits was very important, carrying out the activities mentioned above, among which we can highlight above all that dedicated to Spiritual Exercises and as a School of Industrial Mastery.
Since 1996 it has been ceded by the bishopric of Cartagena to the San Antonio University Foundation for the location of the Catholic University of the same name, entrusting it with its governance and management.