Ciempozuelos, a town situated to the south of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, 33 km from the capital, is without a doubt the place with most significance for the Congregation.
It was here that Father Menni’s “wild decision” to found a Congregation to care for women with mental health problems became a reality. It was also here that Maria Josefa Recio and Maria Angustias Giménez came, after fleeing in the night from Granada, called by God to this work which began on 31 May 1881. The first hospital “home” which in the early days cared for as many as 1,200 sick women, is now a modern care complex with 650 beds.
The historic building is a replica of the original, with a façade that combines neo-mudéjar, neoclassic and modern styles, and a tiled interior that give it an Andalusian air. The building still conserves the Congregation’s first chapel, St. Joseph’s, a Church with wooden panelling and a picture of our Lady of the Sacred Heart “Our Mother”. The building also contains the organ purchased by the communities of sisters in 1931 to mark the Congregation’s Golden Anniversary. The choir stalls on the left open up to the chapel pantheon where the remains of Saint Benedict Menni, Maria Josefa and Maria Angustias lie. This building is also home to the museum that contains the best reminders of our history and its main protagonists.
Other significant places include the “House of the Lady Joaquina” located at calle Reina Victoria 175, where the Foundresses lived for the first few months; in 1984, it was demolished and La Finca de los Diques was built by the architect Miguel Fisac, a kilometre away from the town; Father Menni bought this property to be used as the hospital wash rooms, as water in the town was both scarce and unsanitary.
Ciempozuelos is also the home of the Hospitaller restoration in Spain, at the hands of Father Menni, who in 1876 founded what is now the St. John of God Hospital, to care for the mentally ill. Ciempozuelos has been and continues to be a Hospitaller town.