The Vera Cruz Brotherhood has its headquarters in this chapel on Baños street, which makes a penance station every Holy Monday with two pasos, the Cristo de la Vera Cruz and the Virgen de las Tristezas.
The brotherhood was founded in 1448 in the huge Franciscan convent known as Casa Grande de San Francisco, which stood in what is now Plaza Nueva. When the convent was demolished in 1840, the brotherhood had to move to the church of San Alberto. There it entered a phase of decline, to the point that they stopped processing. In 1942 the brotherhood moved to its current headquarters in the Chapel of Dulce Nombre and from there it began to process again in 1844.
The Chapel sits on the grounds of the old Arab baths of Reina Mora, which have been partly preserved as annexes to the current chapel. A convent with the dedication of the Dulce Nombre de Jesús was established there since the 16th century, initially formed as a shelter for “repentant women”, although it is known that by the middle of the 17th century it was already a convent with Augustinian nuns in use. In the 19th century, as part of the confiscation process, the convent was exclaustrated and its rooms were used as barracks. The current Chapel is the only remainder of that disappeared convent that has survived to this day.
The access to the temple is through a simple side doorway on which a belfry stands. Inside, we see that the church has a rectangular floor plan with three naves, the central one being covered by a barrel vault with transverse arches and lunettes, all richly decorated with plant motifs and scrollwork. The central nave is notably higher, which allows for the existence of separate spaces above the lateral naves, which open onto the church behind a series of bars. This element clearly takes us back to the conventual past of the temple, since the nuns could attend services from this elevated position, safe from the gaze of the rest of the faithful.
The main altarpiece of the chapel is an anonymous work from the last third of the 17th century that has been linked to the style of Bernardo Simón de Pineda. The two images that appear in the side niches, San Agustín and Santa Mónica, appear to be from the same period and authorship of the altarpiece.
Artistically, perhaps the most outstanding work in the temple is the head of the brotherhood, the Cristo de la Vera Cruz, a crucified figure by an anonymous author dating from the first half of the 16th century, making it the oldest image of Christ in procession in Holy Week in Seville. It is smaller than life size, and due to its age it retains many features of Gothic sculpture, such as the rigidity of its posture and the accentuated pathos of its expression, which achieves a profoundly moving effect.
The painful image that accompanies Christ in his penance station is the Virgen de las Tristezas, a carving made by Antonio Illanes in 1942 to replace the original, whose whereabouts are unknown. On the brotherhood's website, we can read that 'the image was the result of the author's inspiration, taking his wife Doña Isabel Salcedo as a model.'