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450 Years of the Augustinian Nuns of Talavera de la Reina

The Monastery of the Augustinian Nuns of Talavera de la Reina (Toledo) has marked 450 years since its foundation. The anniversary was celebrated with a variety of events, with the students and families of the school, as well as with Augustinian religious of the Province of San Juan de Sahagún and others from across the country who came to join with the nuns in this special moment.

On 9th May 1573, on Corredera del Cristo Street, in Talavera de la Reina, St Alonso de Orozco founded a community of contemplative nuns, who from their Augustinian charism "were a light" for the city.

Since then, there have been four centuries of uninterrupted presence in Talavera de la Reina, many generations of nuns, "faithful sisters who have known how to keep the flame burning", as Mother María García Rojo, superior of the community, relates.

First nuns

When Francisca, sister of St Alonso de Orozco, a pious woman dedicated to works of charity, was widowed, she shared with her brother her desire to give herself totally to God and asked the Augustinian friar, preacher of the court of King Philip II, for guidance.

And so, in the house owned by her late husband on Corredera del Cristo Street, and where she had lived, she began her journey with a group of friends under the name of "Blessed Women of St Augustine."

In the early years, it was St Alonso himself who guided and helped them, both in their material needs - dedicating a good portion of his royal salary to this convent - and their spiritual care, instilling in the nuns love of the Virgin; devotion to the Eucharist; and love of the Cross. These three pillars were the foundation of their spiritual life.

These first Sisters were also joined by Magdalena, a young girl resurrected by St Alonso. Her parents promised that if he brought her back to life, they would give her over "to become a nun in a convent that he was going to establish in Talavera". And so, when she reached the prescribed age she joined the Community.

A long way

After three years, they built the church, dedicated to St Ildefonsus, an early bishop of Toledo and devoted like Alonso to the Virgin. Holy Eucharist was celebrated there for the first time on 2nd May 1576, and the little bell given by the holy founder was inaugurated.

The Community faced many adversities and difficulties across the years, including the invasion of Napoleon’s troops in 1808, the Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1836, and the Spanish Civil War, whose bombs destroyed the convent forcing the nuns to move to live with their own and their students’ families. But, they would return and rebuild, always trusting in the protection of the Virgin.

The school

Although a small school had been operating since 1885, it was not until 1901 when the school was officially recognized according to current regulations and placed under the protection of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to whom nuns and students have always professed a tender devotion.

When the community moved in 1985 to its present location, "El Toconal", the old house passed into the hands of the Archbishopric, becoming the seat of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The rest of the facilities are used for a variety of apostolic activities, in what is known as "House of the Church.”

Vocational Seedbed

It is important to know that, from the outset, the nuns admitted to the cloister young girls that they had educated, according to the custom of the time, and by express desire of Alonso. These were girls who, through the example of the nuns, felt called to continue this way of life.

This dynamic is still happening today, as Mother Maria tells us: "a good number of the Sisters in the Community today were educated in the College, receiving a very valuable example of dedication to God and sororal life that we have wanted to imitate, seeking God with one soul and one heart."

Over the years, the community has not only helped several convents of the Federation of Augustinian Contemplative Nuns in Spain who were lacking in vocations, but has also left Spain to found communities in Panama (in 1989), the first branch of this great tree, and in Colombia, at the request of the Augustinian Fathers, and which is taking its first steps this year.

Wherever they are present, in addition to education, the Community offers the possibility of being a school of prayer and of living the Augustinian Charism, through various associations of the faithful:  the Oratories of St Joseph (with children), Cor Unum (for youth), St Monica (adults and families), Monica’s Mothers (groups of women praying for their children), St Rita (grandmothers), Alumni Association - as well as through the liturgy and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The celebration

On 9th May, the 450th anniversary of their foundation, accompanied by students, alumni, religious and so many people who love them, the nuns gathered to give thanks for their continued presence, their work, and their witness of faith.

After visiting the Church, at 5.30 pm, a simple act of thanksgiving took place at the College, followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Church, presided over by the Archbishop of Toledo, Msgr Francisco Cerro.



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