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Granada City - Casa de los Pisa, Museum of Saint John of God

Casa de los Pisa, Museum of Saint John of God

by Lawrence Bohme

This 16th century palace stands at the end of an alley leading up from Plaza Nueva. It is called La Casa de Pisa, or "la casa de los Pisa", because it belonged to a noble family by that name who were given the property in reward for the role they played in the conquest of Granada.

Since then it has become a shrine to the city's own saint, Saint John of God, who devoted his short life to caring for the many sick and homeless people who wandered the streets of the city. John was cared for himself, in his last moments, by a kind lady of the Pisa family, within these very walls. The adepts of the hospitaller order of Saint John of God have transformed the interior into a fabulous treasure chest of relics in the baroque style.

The patio, with its Moorish fountain.

A carving of the Saint, praying by the bed where he died. When the floor tiles were changed in the 18th century, those where he had knelt were kept.

The Saint's basket or "capacha", where he collected food and clothing for the destitute of Granada.

His staff or "bastón". When the ladies of the noble homes heard it thumping on the street, they knew that John was coming to collect their offerings.

In this carving, we can see a loaf of bread peeking out of a hole in John's bag.

When he found someone lying in the streets, exhausted from hunger or disease, he would carry them to his makeshift hospital on the Cuesta de Gomerez, on his back.

So famous did John become, over the centuries, for his miraculous powers, that lavish donantions began to fill the churches and shrines dedicated to him.

La Casa de Pisa is a treasure trove of artworks and curiosities, such as this painting, showing how the monks of John's hospitaller order, in the Brazilian city of Salvador, were massacred during an invasion of pirates, in the 17th century...

...and this incomparable 18th century inlaid table and chest, with Koranic inscriptions, in the Moorish style of wood incrustation known as taracea.