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  • Writer's pictureRichard Morgan

Santa Catalina Monastery, Arequipa

These pictures were taken in 2016 on a trip to Peru . The monastery of Santa Catalina remains very much as it was when the last nuns left in the 1970's. Thankfully it has not been over restored or developed and the thick veil of dust that lies over the simple rooms and their contents merely adds to the feeling of abandonent and ghostly human presence .

For a fee you can visit the site and wander through the dimly lit rooms where the devotees lived out their spartan lives of prayer and meditation . There are kitchens with stone floors and open fires, hand made utensils and mortars for grinding flour , separating grain and a myriad other daily domestic chores . Straw matresses and a single chair furnish the bedrooms with candles, the Bible and always a crucifix in a niche on the wall . It is an entrancing place , and if you visit when it is quiet, just before dusk you can have the site all to yourself.

I visited three times in the same week just to photograph the utensils lit by weak candlelight . Long exposures reveal subtle patinas and layers of time -polished seats , worn granite, and creaking planks. Hopefully the images here comunicate some of the spirit of the place .

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