The first information about the monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena dates back to the first half of the 16th century. In 1524 the institution “Cabildo de Tenerife” had the intention of founding a nun monastery in the plot that the Adelantado and the “Cabildo de Tenerife” had allotted to the Dominican monks.
However, it was not until 1611 that the project was carried out thanks to the intervention of Juan de Cabrejas, alderman of the island of La Palma, and of his wife doña María de Salas. They bought the plot where the house of the Adelantados used to stand and gave it up in order to have an enclosed monastery built. In successive purchases all the constructions in the quarter were added to the property. On 23 April 1611 the monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena was inaugurated with the arrival of four Dominican nuns from Seville.
The monastery, which was initially modest, reached its definitive structure in the 17th century. At this time, it was ranked among the major monasterys on the island because of the riches it owned.
The building was not affected by the 19th century Confiscation thanks to the large number of enclosed nuns. It has always housed the same Order.
It follows the rules of the monasteryual architecture of the time. Over the cityscape the barrel tiles of the roofs, the high walls with posterns in the cells and, particularly, the bell gable and the latticed enclosed balconies or ajimeces which are clearly in the Mudejar tradition stand out.
The church, which was built around the same time, has one single nave, marble floor from a more recent time and wooden ceiling after the Mudejar style. Noteworthy are the two doorways that are made of carved wood and framed by two masonry arches. In Santa Catalina de Siena Church rests the body of nun Sierva de Dios, Sor María de Jesús León y Delgado. Three years after she died, (on 15 February 1731) the ship captain Don Amaro Rodríguez Felipe (colloquially known as Amaro Pargo) asked for her corpse to be exhumed. Having been granted permission by the superiors of the Order of Saint Dominic, he wanted the nun to rest in a wooden coffin he had had made; this was quite unusual as nuns were usually buried in earth. Since then the body of Sor María de Jesús rests in the sarcophagus given by the Captain. The remains of the Sierva are worshipped as a saint every 15 February, while her body has remained incorrupt throughout the years. At present, church authorities are involved in the process of her canonization.