Photo Diary: The Profundis Room at the Santa Catalina convent in Arequipa.

In the novice courtyard at the Santa Catalina monastery in Arequipa, Peru. (Photos by C-M.)

One of Arequipa, Peru’s most stunning sights is the Santa Catalina monastery — a sprawling, blocks-long walled compound that serves as a religious city within a city, a labyrinthine array of cells and chapels and gathering spaces for an order of well-to-do-creole nuns, founded in the 16th century. One of its more remarkable sights has to be the Profundis Room, or former mortuary, where the portraits of deceased nuns line the walls. Literally, the portraits are of nuns that have recently died. A most interesting memento mori…

A portrait of Sister Maria Manuela de la Asencion, who died in 1824.

The walls of the Profundis Room.

Another portrait (unfortunately I didn’t catch the name or the year).

Some of the deceased bore crowns of flowers.

Sor Maria Clara de San Juan Evangelista.

Sor Tadea de la Santisima Trinidad.

A view of the Profundis Room, crafted from the white volcanic rock known as sillar.