The current temple on Mateos Gago street was originally the church of the Espíritu Santo convent, of the Clérigos Menores congregation. The primitive church of Santa Cruz was located in the current square of the same name, but its demolition began during the Napoleonic invasion, initially moving the parish to the Hospital de los Venerables and in 1840 to its current location.
The church was built between 1665 and 1728 and we know that at least for a while the works were directed by the master José Tirado. It has three naves, with a transept and a flat head.
Its only façade opens at the foot and remained unfinished until the 20th century. Within the general embellishment of the Santa Cruz neighborhood that took place in the years prior to the Ibero-American Exposition, the great regionalist architect Juan Talavera y Heredia designed the current façade, which was carried out between 1926 and 1929.
It is made in a neo-baroque style of great classicism, following the model of some of the Sevillian Mannerist portals, such as the one in the Convent of Santa María de Jesús or the side of the church of San Pedro. The decorative elements also include garlands of flowers and fruit at the top of the pilasters and some ovals framed by the characteristic Baroque rockeries.
In the central niche above the entrance there is a wrought iron cross reminiscent of the 'Cruz de las Sierpes' that today is found in the nearby Plaza de Santa Cruz. Above it, a shield again reproduces a tree cross on a stone Calvary and on both sides, two shields profusely decorated with the symbols of Jesus and Mary.
To finish off the façade, the architect devised a stylized belfry with two heights and three openings for bells. It is practically the same height as the great dome that is located on the transept, which gives the church a characteristic profile.
Inside, the first thing that catches the attention of the church is its great monumentality and neoclassical air, characteristics highlighted by its white color and sparse decoration, a very unusual feature in Sevillian churches.
The central nave is taller than the lateral ones and is covered by a barrel vault with transverse arches and lunettes. The lateral ones are accessed through deep semicircular arches on thick pilasters. A clerestory runs over the side naves, which opens onto the church with wrought iron balconies. This is quite a common feature in conventual churches, since it allowed the religious to attend the ceremonies while preserving their privacy. Above the entrance to the temple, we find a high choir supported by a large lowered semicircular arch.
The wide transept of the church is covered with a semicircular vault on pendentives. The circumstance occurs that the dome has a drum that is very hidden from the inside, even giving the impression that it is a dome without a drum, while it is very marked seen from the outside. Four large windows open in it, which added to those located in the lantern, give the whole a great luminosity.
The head of the temple is flat and has been covered by a barrel vault. At its end, an arch supports the space in which the church organ is located, in a very unusual location in Sevillian temples. It is a magnificent neoclassical organ designed by Antonio Otín Calvete around 1810. In its upper part, there is a beautiful group of angels sculpted in stone holding different musical instruments. Under the organ, there are choir stalls, made at the end of the 18th century, also in neoclassical style.
At the end of the 18th century, within an academic atmosphere rejecting what were considered excesses of the Baroque, it was decided to replace the original altarpiece of the church, which apparently stood out for its profuse decoration and theatricality. Some authors, such as Santiago Montoto in his collection of articles on the "Parishes of Seville", point out that the previous altarpiece was burned down in a fire. In any case, it was replaced by the neoclassical temple that we can see today, made in 1792 by Blas Molner.
It is a dome supported by Corinthian columns, forming a polychrome complex to imitate marble. An allegorical image of Faith is located on the dome and the temple houses the image of the Virgin of Peace, a magnificent Renaissance image attributed to Jerónimo Hernández and dated around 1579. It comes from the old Convent of San Pablo, current church of La Magdalena , and represents the classic iconography of the Virgin with Child enthroned in the manner of Roman matrons. It seems that it was originally conceived as a Virgin of the Rosary and that it acquired the current dedication of Peace when it was transferred to this parish in 1835.
Along the walls of the church there are a series of altarpieces, mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries, which house some pieces of notable artistic value.
You can start by mentioning the altarpiece of the Cristo de las Misericordias, which is on the left side, in the front of the transept. The image is a beautiful anonymous carving from the 17th century, which represents Christ still alive with his gaze directed towards heaven. It has traditionally been located in the circle of Pedro Roldán and due to its composition it is related to the Christ of the Expiration of Triana. He is the owner of the Brotherhood of Santa Cruz, which carries out a procession on Holy Tuesday through the streets of the city.
On that same side of the church, two 17th-century altarpieces made by Bernardo Simón de Pineda can be highlighted, one dedicated to Santa Ana and the other to the Immaculate Conception (although the Immaculate Conception that currently centers the altarpiece is later, from the 18th century). . Along with them, we can mention the altarpiece dedicated to San Francisco Caracciolo, founder of the Minor Clerics. Both the altarpiece and the image of the saint are attributed to Pedro Duque Cornejo, one of the most outstanding sculptors of the 18th century in Seville.
On the right side, we can highlight the altarpiece of the Virgen del Mayor Dolor, designed in the 17th century by Bernardo Simón de Pineda and polychromed by Juan Valdés Leal, although it was reformed in the 18th century adding Rococo-style decorative elements. The image of the Virgin that presides over the altarpiece is a kneeling Soledad also dated from the 18th century, while on the bench there is an interesting painting with the representation of Christ Recumbent.