Arabs, Mozarabs and Saint Rudesind

After the Arab conquest of the Iberian peninsula – begun in 711 – and the retreat of the Visigoths to the north, the Berbers stayed during some time in Galicia. The “moros y cristianos” (“Moors and Christians”) festivals and Pre-Romanesque Art (Visigothic, Asturian and Mozarabic) remind us of those times.

After the year 711 relations with Rome nearly completely disappeared and the power of ecclesiastic institutions sunk. The Church sought support from the monarchy and hence this led to a period of certain dependence on the Crown. During this period several monarchs established or re-established dioceses: King Alphonse III (866-910) re-established those of Ourense, Zamora and Tui.

After having gained territory to the Arabs in the south King Alphonse III undertook ca. 900 the resettlement of those new territories. This attracted Mozarabs – Christians that still lived under Arab rule in Al-Andalus. Monastic Mozarabic communities moved north and founded churches and monasteries.

In the 10th century Saint Rudesind – related to the Royal family – promoted a monastic reform. He attracted many Mozarabic monks from Al-Andalus. He and some of his relatives founded several monasteries in Galicia.

Mozarabic population introduced features of Hispano-Arabic culture in the newly reconquered territories, resulting in a culture designated as “Mozarabic” or “de repoblación” (of resettlement): architecture, dialectology, poetry, songs, painting, urbanism, liturgy, and music. The Golden Age of Mozarabic art – that also included features of Visigothic art – is the 10th century.

ARCHITECTURE

CAPELA DE SAN MIGUEL   
SAINT MICHAEL’S CHAPEL
(Celanova)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1923
Style: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic (940) 

 

LÁPIDA MOZÁRABE NA IGREXA DE SANTA BAIA DE BERREDO
MOZARABIC GRAVESTONE IN THE SANTA BAIA’S CHURCH AT BERREDO
(A Bola (Santa Baia))

Style:Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic

  • In the inside there is a rectangular Mozarabic gravestone with a frame decorated with horseshoe arches in the bottom part.
  • It’s quite eroded because it was embedded in the floor of the church.
  • This church was a priory of the monastery of Celanova. Its “hórreo” – granary on stilts – is the largest in the province and the altarpiece of this church holds a figure of Saint Rudesind depicted as a bishop.
    Igrexa de Santa Baia de Berredo

 

 

IGREXA DE SAN MARTIÑO DE PAZÓ
SAINT MARTIN’S CHURCH AT PAZÓ
(Allariz (Pazó))

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931 
Style: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic (10th century) 

  • This church is what remains of an ancient monastery whose abbess in 982 – Guntrode – was a relative of Saint Rudesind.
  • On the south façade there’s a door with a horseshoe arch and an “alfiz” panel.
  • Since 1043 it was a priory and farm of the monastery of Celanova.
    Igrexa de San Martiño de Pazó

 

IGREXA DE SANTA EUFEMIA DE AMBÍA
SAINT EUPHEMIA’S CHURCH AT AMBÍA
(Baños de Molgas)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931
Styles: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic & Asturian (10th century) 

  • This church is what remains of a monastery devoted to Saint Mary founded towards 955 by Gonçalo Froila and his wife Ilduara – relatives of Saint Rudesind.
  • It has a triple Asturian chevet with Mozarabic details: three pairs of very narrow mullioned windows with very narrow horseshoe arches and an alfiz panel.
    Igrexa de Santa Eufemia de Ambía

 

IGREXA DE SANTA MARÍA DE MIXÓS
SAINT MARY’S CHURCH AT MIXÓS
(Monterrei (Estevesiños, San Mamede))

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931 
Styles: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic, Visigothic & Asturian (940)  

  • This church is what remains of an ancient monastery.
  • It was donated in the 12th century (1155) to the monastery of Celanova to which it belonged until the 16th century, when it became part of the patrimony of the Count of Monterrei.
  • It has a triple Asturian chevet with Mozarabic details: loopholes.
  • On the south façade there’s a door.
    Igrexa de Santa María de Mixós
    Photo Gallery

 

MUSEUM

MUSEO ARQUEOLÓXICO PROVINCIAL DE OURENSE
PROVINCIAL ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF OURENSE
(Ourense)

 

FESTIVALS

The “moros y cristianos” (“Moors and Christians”) festivals start off with the theft of the banner or the statue of the local saint and the taking of prisoners among the Christians. It’s followed by the “parlamento” (spoken negotiation between the captains of both armies) with does not lead to a solution.

A religious service takes place after which the Christian captain entrusts himself to the saint so that he helps him in the battle. The battle takes place, the saint is recovered, and the prisoners are freed. Then the Christian captain declares the saint as patron saint of that place and the popular celebration starts.

The origin of these festivals is uncertain although it’s believed to date back to the times of the “Reconquista” (the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula) (722-1492).

 

ROMARÍA DA VIRXE DA MERCED DA SAÍNZA
OUR LADY OF MERCY’S FEAST AT A SAÍNZA
(Rairiz de Veiga (A Saínza))

Festival of Galicia of Touristic Interest since 2000
Date: the Sunday closest to September 24th (Our Lady of Mercy’s feast day)

  • The “moros and cristianos” (Moors and Christians) festival takes place during the feast in honor of Our Lady of Mercy.
  • During the procession the banner of Our Lady of Mercy is stolen and then the battle starts.
  • The “moros y cristianos” (Moors and Christians) celebration is celebrated since 1840 when the local priest established it and commissioned a tower (that stands for the Christian castle) in “Campo do Castelo” (Castle’s Field). This celebration might have already existed in the past prior to 1840.
    Romaría da Virxe da Merced da Saínza
    Video

 

FESTA DE SANTA MARIÑA NA RETORTA
SAINT MARINA’S FEAST AT A RETORTA
(Laza (Retorta))

Date: the Sunday closest to July 18th (Saint Marina’s feast day)

  • The “moros y cristianos” (Moors and Christians) festival takes place during the feast in honor of Saint Marina – current patron saint of the town.
  • There’s a procession of the statue of Saint Marina – carried by old ladies – and of that of Saint Anthony – paraded by young girls.
  • The Moors take the statue of Saint Anthony – former patron saint of the town – and then the battle starts.
  • The captain of the Moors comes along with his harem.
  • The origin of this festival is very old.
    Festa de Santa Mariña en Retorta

 

FESTA DE SANTIAGO EN TREZ
SAINT JAMES’ FEAST AT TREZ
(Laza (Trez))

Date: July 25th (Saint James’ feast day)

  • The “moros y cristianos” (Moors and Christians) festival takes place during the feast in honor of Saint James.
  • The origin of this festival is very old.

 

*BIC (Bien de interés cultural) – “Heritage of Cultural Interest” – applies to classified heritage in Spain.

**Mudejar: regards the art style developed by Muslims in the territories that became under Christian control due to the southward advances of the Reconquest within the Iberian peninsula. The materials, the techniques, and the formal elements of Islamic architecture influenced Christian architecture and Christian sumptuary arts. In Spain during the 11th to the 16th centuries some works in Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles – especially in Castilla-León, Toledo, Sevilla, and Aragón – reveal Mudejar influence.

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