South America

Dominicans in Bogotá
priory and church
the University of Bogotá
chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary


Brief history of the discovery and the conquest of Colombia by the Spanish Crown.


European exploration of the Colombian coastline was the work of Rodrigo de Bastidas, who in 1500-01 sailed the Caribbean coast from Cabo de la Vela to Nombre de Dios in Panamá, and of Francisco Pizarro, who sailed the Pacific coast in 1525. Effective conquest of Colombia began in 1525 with the founding of Santa Marta on the north coast nearby Bastidas. In 1533 Pedro de Heredia founded Cartagena, which became one of the major naval and merchant marine bases of the Spanish empire. By the end of 1539 all but one of the major inland colonial cities had been founded, as well as the most important communication centres along the routes connecting them.


Foundation of Santa Fé de Bogotá.

Bogotá was founded on the 6th of August 1538 by the Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, who fought the Chibcha Indians near the site of the populous tribe centre called Bacatá. His chaplain was Domingo de las Casas, O.P. (ca.1500-1579), who celebrated the first Mass in Santa Fé. His leaden chalice is preserved in the cathedral of Bogotá. By mid-century the era of the conqueror drew to an end. Establishment of the audiencia (an administrative and judicial tribunal) of Santa Fé de Bogotá in 1549 opened the colonial era. During the era of the audiencia, from 1549 to 1740, the population was politically quiet. The Roman Catholic Church played an important role, providing most welfare services and operating most schools. The church was an effective instrument of the crown, since the latter controlled much of its activity.
The Spanish crown rapidly repossessed the broad powers granted the conquerors and formed its own institutions to rule the empire. The governments of Popayán, Antioquía, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Ríohacha, the New Kingdom of Granada (Bogotá), and the llanos of Casanare and San Martín were made subject to the new audiencia. The president of the audiencia was the executive head of government, subject to the viceroy of Peru in administrative matters.

The new city became the vice-regal capital of New Granada in 1717. It was captured by Simón Bolívar in 1819 and was the capital of the independent nation of Great Colombia (which included modern day Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá, and Venezuela). It became the capital of New Granada (later renamed Colombia) in 1830 when Great Colombia was dissolved. The difficulties of travel, however, impeded communications and checked centralized control. The area declined in population after the conquest as a result of disease and the economic demands made upon the Indians.

As elsewhere in the empire, the downward trend seems to have reversed itself at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. Acculturation and intermarriage rapidly destroyed most of the special cultural traits of many remaining Indians.. The economy was based on mining and agriculture, but a small yet important textile industry had grown up in Socorro, north of Bogotá, by the mid-18th century. Slavery was introduced during the conquest and became common in the placer-mining areas of the Chocó and western Antíoquia and in the agricultural regions of the Cauca Valley, the lower Magdalena Valley, and the coastal lowlands. Indians were subject to the encomienda tribute, but by 1700 most of the privately held encomiendas had reverted to the crown, and they were rarely granted thereafter.
Source: Among others: Encyclopædia Britannica CD 99.

The city of Santa Fé de Bogotá grew slowly because Bogotanos (cachacos) wished to preserve their old culture. They cherished their churches, convents, homes (built in the ornate Spanish colonial style) and the National University, founded in 1573. They also prided themselves on speaKing the purest Spanish in the New World.

The Spanish Dominicans in Bogotá.


The Spanish Dominicans founded a priory with church in Santa Fé de Bogotá in 1550.
In 1634 the Dominican Cristopher de Torres (27.12.1573-08.07.1654), born in Burgos (Spain), preacher connected with the court of Philips IV, was appointed ArchBishop of Santafé en Nueva Granada on 8 January 1635. He founded in 1653 the Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, since 13 June 1680 the university of St. Thomas Aquinas. Mgr. R.M. Carrasquilla (+1930) was a famous rector.

The chapel of the Holy Rosary, built in 1654 by de Torres, is part of the church of the Dominican priory. On the relief above the entrance Thomas Aquinas, Saint Dominic, Our Lady with Child, and de Torres.





The painting represents the Misa de los Conquistadores, celebrated by Domingo de Las Casas, O.P. at the conquest of Muequetá, 1538.


Colombia 1938, Mi 395, Sc 463.




Priory with the church 




The church of the Dominican priory in Bogotá.


Colombia 1938, Mi 394, Sc 462.



   The church of the Dominicans, and the priory,

   which is today the office of the post administration of Bogotá.


   Colombia 1950, Mi 596, Sc 586.





Cloister of the priory in Bogotá with
Christopher de Torres, founder of the Colegio,
later Univiersity of Saint Thomas.
In the cloister a statue of deToprres.


Colombia 1954, Mi 711, Sc C265







Pope John Paul II in Colombia from 1 till 7 July 1986,
and his visit to Bogotá, with the church of the Dominicans.


Colombia 1986, Mi 1675, Sc C763.




   450th Anniversary of the foundation of Bogotá on 1st August   

   1538. Old Bogotá with the church of the Dominicans (1550).


   Colombia 1988, Mi 1725, Sc C793.




The (Colegio) university


Thirtieth centenary of the foundation of the Senor College, - Colegio Mayo de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Alma mater de la patria -, in Bogotá, 1653-1953.

Christopher of Torres, founder of the Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora
del Rosario
in Bogotá (1635), after a painting by the Spanish artist Caspar
de Figueira, 17th century.


Colombia 1954, Mi 710, Sc C264.




Mgr. R.M. Carrasquilla (1857-1930), rector
of the University of Bogotá (1890-1930),
 and  the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.  


Colombia 1959, Mi 847; Sc C316.






The façade of the University of Saint Thomas in Bogotá.
On the stamp Thomas Aquinas by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos, preserved in the University of Bogota. Thomas is presented with his hymn Pange lingua, to be read with a loupe.

Colombia 1982, Mi 1597, Sc 902. On the FDC





Chapel and statue of our Lady of the Rosary.


Entrance of the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary or
Capilla de la Bordilita, with at the front in relief Thomas Aquinas,
Saint Dominic, Our Lady of the Rosary and Cristobal de Torres, O.P. (1573-1654).  



Colombia 1938, Mi 390, Sc 458.


   Madonna of Bogotá in the chapel of our Lady of the

   Rosary, near the church of the Dominican priory.

   Embroidery by Margaretha of Austria (1480-1530),
   today above the high altar in the chapel.


   Colombia 1954, Mi 709; Sc (629) and C263.





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