This Neo-Romanesque building began its life as the convent church of the Poor Clares Monastery of Our Lady of Jerusalem, whom we will discuss in a subsequent post as they are still in existence; this particular structure was one of several which housed them over a number of centuries. Construction on the complex in the Sant Gervasi district in the north end of the city, which included not only the church and the convent but also a school, took place between 1884-1901. It was burned by Leftists in 1909, during the “Tragic Week” when many convents and monasteries were attacked. It was subsequently restored but attacked again by the Lefties in 1938, and burned.
After the war the Poor Clares returned, but were separated in different convents around the city until their old convent was made habitable again. In the meantime, the parish of St. Agnes began in 1945 as a mission of the already-extant parish of Our Lady of Peace nearby, to address the needs of the increasing population of the Sant Gervasi district. The parish then began renting space in the church and monastery of Our Lady of Jerusalem, with approval from the Archbishop.
Once they had taken possession of the space, the parish began a program of restoration of the buildings, with a number of pieces of religious art being donated for use in the church by the titled and well-to-do in the area. As the parish continued to grow, it eventually became clear that the old convent space as it stood was too small to minister to the needs of the faithful, and that further renovation and expansion was necessary. This would not be possible in a rented space, so the parish and the Archdiocese began to negotiate with the Poor Clares for the purchase of the property.
This process was apparently quite lengthy and, at times, acrimonious, but eventually an agreement to sell the complex was reached by all parties in 1955. The architect Leopoldo Gil Nebot, a parishioner, was retained to redesign the old convent space, and this was completed in 1958. That same year, it was formally established as an independent parish. However the nuns continued in residence until their new convent higher up in the mountains around the city was completed in 1970.