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Church of Saint Francis of Assisi - National Fund For Sacred Places
2022 Cohort

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi

(Roman Catholic)

San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is the second oldest church in Puerto Rico and one of the oldest buildings in San Juan.

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi by Jorge Rigau Arquitectos PSC

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi by Jorge Rigau Arquitectos PSC

2022 Cohort

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi

(Roman Catholic)

San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is the second oldest church in Puerto Rico and one of the oldest buildings in San Juan.

In the early 1500s at the start of Spain’s colonization of Puerto Rico, King Fernando the Catholic ordered Franciscan friars to erect a monastery on the island. The present church was built in 1772 by Spaniards, local Puerto Ricans, and enslaved people using local materials and traditional construction methods. The church is now the sole surviving building of a demolished 18th-century Franciscan complex and represents the birthplace and growth of Franciscan spirituality in Puerto Rico. The crypt at the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is the final resting place of many prominent historical figures and a repository for sacred art. The church is located within the Old San Juan Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.

Nearly 500 people attend services at the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi each week. From the church, friars and volunteers also provide showers for unhoused individuals, free meals, health services, and access to a social worker. Additionally, the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is active in raising money for local charities and scholarships.

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is the first congregation in the U.S. Territories to be awarded funding from the National Fund for Sacred Places. The congregation will receive $50,000 with $50,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation towards comprehensive building repairs, including masonry and structural work; upgraded lighting and electrical systems; and construction of an ADA-compliant bathroom. In celebration of the congregation’s 500th anniversary, church leaders look forward to protecting the building from future hurricane damage, enhancing life safety, and instilling pride in the “improved appearance of one of the most loved and visible icons of Old San Juan” through this work.

 

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi by Jorge Rigau Arquitectos PSC

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi courtesy Capuchin Order Archives

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez