Catalina de Ribera.

Catalina de Ribera
We do not know her birthday date, but we know that Catalina de Ribera died on January the 13th 1505. Her body has not rested in peace, since it was buried in a Sepulchre placed in the Monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas (Cartuja Island) but centuries later they moved her body to the Illustrious Sevillian Pantheon, but when the Monastery was restored, they moved the body back to the place she had been chosen for her eternal rest.

This noble lady, from one of the richest and principal families of the nobility, had a very accurated eye for business and she managed them along with her husband. Moreover, when he died, she achieved to multiply the family fortune. They were very big landowners, had important rents and positions, and spoils of war, all granted by the king, but also maritime trade, and most important: the soap monopoly, owning the Almonas (Soap factories), wich supplied to all Europe and America of the famous white Soap of Castilla, probably because of the high quality of the olive oil used in the making.

The marriage of Catalina de Ribera and Pedro Henríquez was the key for the introduction of Renaissance in Seville. They bought a plot near San Esteban parish and they build there the family home, La Casa Pilatos. Years before The Pineda Family sold them their palace near San Juan de la Palma parish, so they could pay ransom for their son, captive in La Axarquía, in Málaga, still under muslim domain. They will rebuild this house, the one today is known as Las Dueñas Palace. This way, the family had two palaces, to prevent fights between both sons. And this is why we can see Catalina’s hand in the most important palaces of Seville after the Alcazar.

There is an eagerness to give sheen and reputation to the family through art and architecture…and charity. Catalina de Ribera along with her son Fadrique founded The Hospital of Las Cinco Llagas (The Five Wounds of our Lord) to care for the poor women. It was in the Santiago Street, but they acquire the plot in front of Macarena’s Door, to build the magnificent renaissance construction we know today, the most modern hospital in the time, the biggest civil building in Spain until the building os the Escorial, and it was operating like hospital for 500 years, so efficient it was!.

Catalina died before the Hospital was built but she left instructions for the building, performed by the master Hernán Ruiz.