In the province of Ourense there are many Marian Shrines that attract worshippers and visitors in general. Each shrine originated around a legend and around the shrine a “romería” (religious pilgrimage and feast) was born.
SANTUARIO DA VIRXE DE CRISTAL
SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF CRYSTAL
(Celanova (Vilanova dos Infantes))
Patron saint of Vilanova dos Infantes
- The figure of this Virgin that dates back to ca. 1630 is inside a glass cylinder and is only five centimeters long: the smallest of the Marian figures worshipped in Galicia and it’s one of the smallest in the world. The figure has two sides: on one she is depicted younger than on the other side.
- Still nowadays it’s not known with what technical means the figure was created.
- In 2015 the figure of Our Lady of Crystal disappeared and the priest that used to take care of it – D. Adolfo Enríquez Méndez – was found dead. The shrine has a new figure.
Romería: in mid September
- After mass at the Shrine of the Our Lady of Crystal the “o encontro” (the encounter) procession heads during an hour and a half towards the center of Vilanova dos Infantes and in its square the figure of the Virgin meets those of Saint Roch and that of Saint Sebastian.
- During the procession the Virgin is accompanied by dancers that carry out different choreographies during the different stages of the procession. This is the medieval processional dance of the guild of shoemakers from Vilanova dos Infantes in honor of the Virigin – nowadays one of the few guild dances that still exist in Galicia.
- Traditionally there were eight dancers – four pairs of young men from the town -, but emigration and the depopulation of rural areas has contributed to now also allow women to participate.
- The first dance is “la redonda” (the round one) and “la reverencia” (the reverence) performed with castanets before the Virgin. Later “a ponte” (the bridge) and afterwards “los paloteos” (a choreography with sticks) is performed at the square of Vilanova dos Infantes.
Video of the Processional Guild Dance of the Shoemakers of Vilanova dos Infantes 1rstpart
- The peak moment of the procession is when the encounter and the reverence of Saint Roch and Saint Sebastian before Our Lady of Crystal takes place.
- That’s when the most colorful dance takes place – “el trenzado de las cintas” (the plaiting of ribbons) – which is similar to a maypole dance: dancers move in a circle, each holding a colored ribbon attached to a pole. As they move around the pole, the dancers intertwine their ribbons to plait it to the pole. At the end of the dance, in order to unravel the ribbons, the dancers retrace their steps.
Video of the Processional Guild Dance of the Shoemakers of Vilanova dos Infantes 2ndpart
- The dance comes to an end with “la serpentina” (the serpentine), “la redonda” (the round one) and the second reverence.
- The ceremony concludes with a religious service close to the shrine.
Romaría da Virxe do Cristal
Legend: The tiny figure of the Virgin of Crystal was found by a peasant on the ground in front of the shrine. A while later it started being too heavy for him, and he threw it away. On the following day – July 6th 1630 – a young shepherdess passed by the same place, found the crystal and took it with her to town.
Poet Manuel Curros Enríquez in “A Virxe do Cristal” (Our Lady of Crystal) (1880) – a poem included in “Aires da miña terra” (literally “Airs of my Land”) – narrates this legend as follows:
There were two young lovers in Vilanova – Rosa and Martiño – that were going to get married. In the neighboring town of Bentraces lived Juan – a rich landowner, who was in love with Rosa, but who Rosa rejected. Juan, in order to take revenge, slandered Rosa. Martiño believed his lies and they broke up.
Later on Rosa found the figure of Our Lady of Crystal and took it to the parish priest. The discovery became known throughout all the kingdom, even King Philip IV (1605 – 1665) heard about it and wanted to see it.
Over time Martiño realized that he had made a mistake and tried to regain Rosa’s love, but she rejected him and retired in the Convent of Saint Clara in Allariz.
On a cold winter day Martiño went to Allariz to see Rosa, but he died next to the walls of the convent under a blanket of snow.
SANTUARIO DA VIRXE DE ARMADA
SHRINE OF OUR LADY AT ARMADA
Style: vernacular Baroque (1791)
Patron saint of head conditions
Romería: on September 9th (in remembrance of the apparition of the Virgin; the novena starts nine days before)
- During the celebrations there are religious services as well as a writing contest in honor of the Virgin.
- The figure of the Virgin is taken in procession on a carriage from the shrine to the Church of Saint Savior in Rabal and days after it’s taken back to the shrine. It’s also taken to the river Arnoia.
- During the procession some worshippers accompany Our Lady carrying pennants decorated with Christmas ribbons and balls.
- Some pilgrims go walking from the town center of Celanova.
- Worshippers take votive offerings to the shrine.
- There is live traditional Galician bagpipe music.
Legend: Our Lady of Armada appeared in the 15th century to two very young shepherdesses by river Arnoia. On a September 9th the two girls were with their cattle on Mount A Fontiña. One of them fell into river Arnoia and was about to drown. She asked the Virgin for help and the Virgin helped her. When she got out of the river, the girls found two figures of the Virgin: one stayed in Armada and the other one was sent to Fechas – a parish in Celanova.
SANTUARIO DA NOSA SEÑORA DAS MARABILLAS
SHRINE OF OUR LADY AT MARABILLAS
Cartelle (As Marabillas)
Style: Baroque (1646)
Santuario da Nosa Señora das Marabillas
Romería: on Whit Monday
- On that day the church and the figure of the Virgin are decorated with ribbons and strands of paper in different colors.
- A lively procession runs through the parish while people carrying large pennants decorated with dolls and colorful Christmas balls, or carrying floral arches accompany the figure of the Virgin. In the past the balls were made of glass, the neighbors kept them in their homes until the day of the celebration, and the dolls were traditional.
- Children are offered to the Virgin and that could be the reason why there are dolls decorating the pennants.
- Worshippers take votive offerings to the shrine.
Legend: When a shepherdess woke up and opened her eyes, she saw the Virgin who requested that a shrine be built where She had at her feet.
SANTUARIO DE SANTA MARÍA DO MUNDIL
SAINT MARY’S SHRINE AT O MUNDIL
Cartelle (O Mundil)
Style: Baroque (1791)
- In the past the shrine depended on the Church of Santa Baia de Anfeoz that belonged to the monastery of Celanova.
- Above the door there’s a balcony – something quite usual in sanctuaries in the province of Ourense – with an altar and behind it stands the figure of the Virgin.
Santuario de Santa María de O Mundil
Patron saint of disabled people and of children with growth disorders.
Romería: on August 21rst & 22nd
- On August 21st there’s a procession during three hours throughout the entire parish. The Virgin is taken on a carriage during the procession.
Legend: There are several legends. On the one hand it is said that in the 16th century the Virgin appeared close to a fountain to a woman that lived in Nogueiró. It is also said that the Virgin appeared to some shepherds that were in the woods with their cattle. In both cases after the apparition of the Virgin a modest chapel was built in “o Campo da Santa” (the Field of the Saint) and later the current church was built.
SANTUARIO DA NOSA SEÑORA DO VAL DE POULO
SHRINE OF OUR LADY AT VAL DE POULO
(Gomesende (O Val))
- Unfinished although the reason is unknown this beautiful shrine is located in the woods by the ancient Way of Saint James that started in Porto and passed by Celanova. From the shrine one can contemplate the valley made by the hills of O Viso and Silva Escura.
- A house dated 1710 is thought to be a hostel for pilgrims.
- The altarpiece inside the church was carved in stone and has a depiction of Our Lady of Val.
- At the entrance there’s a wayside stone cross from the late 18th century.
Santuario da Nosa Señora do Val de Poulo
Romería: in May – “Día de la Santa Cruz do Val”- (Day of the Holy Cross of Val)
SANTUARIO DA NOSA SEÑORA DA GUÍA
SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF GUIDANCE
(Gomesende (A Guía))
Style: Baroque (late 18th century)
- It’s a Baroque temple of the late 1700’s with several subsequent alterations.
- The central part of the altarpiece depicts the Flight into Egypt: the Virgin Mary had to flee from King Herod and she was therefore a refugee, hence the fact that She is the patron saint of refugees and emigrants.
- In the inside there’s the “Santa Cruz do Val” (Holy Cross of the Valley) – a silver cross.
- From the location of the shrine one can see river Arnoia.
Santuario da Nosa Señora da Guía
Patron saint of emigrants and refugees
Romería: on the feast day of the Assumption of Mary (in May)
- It’s one of the most revered Marian shrines within the district of “Terra de Celanova”. Its popularity increased as that of the Shrine of Our Lady of Val de Poulo decreased.
- Many worshippers from the district and from northern Portugal flock to this shrine.
- On the day of the feast the Holy Family depicted as in the Flight into Egypt is taken in procession on a carriage into the woods from wayside stone cross to the next wayside cross.
- The figure of the Virgin is drawn in the sky at night using fireworks.
- The night before there’s a procession with torches.
- There’s also a celebration with performances of folk groups that dance to the music by local bagpipers.
SANTUARIO DE NOSA SEÑORA DO VISO
SHRINE OF OUR LADY AT O VISO
(Lobeira (O Viso))
Style: late Romanesque (1300)
- The shrine seems to be located on top of a pre-Roman hillfort, therefore this is a case of the Christianization of ancient cults.
Santuario de Nosa Señora do Viso
Patron saint of head conditions and naughty children
Romería: on Pentecost Sunday – “Viso Grande” (Big Viso) and on September 8th – “Viso Pequeno” (Small Viso)
- It’s the most important “romería” of the area.
- During the “Viso Grande” (Big Viso) the figure of the Virgin is taken from the parish church of San Vicente in Lobeira to the shrine on Mount O Viso, on a massif of “Sierra de Leboreiro” (Leboreiro Range) from where one can see a large part of the Baixa Limia district.
- She remains there until the “Viso Pequeno” (Small Viso) which is when she is taken back to the church. Since the Virgin is in the shrine all summer long, there’s mass on Saturday morning – at 9 a.m..
- Bagpipers and a music band accompany the procession.
- There’s a bid to see who will have the honor to take the figure of Our Lady into the shrine.
NOSA SEÑORA DA GUÍA
OUR LADY OF GUIDANCE
- The sculpture is located at the roundabout of López Blanco avenue from where the road from Celanova to Cortegada starts. This road was used in the past by locals emigrating from Celanova on the bus to Frieira where they would take the train to Vigo in order to embark towards Latin America – especially to Argentina, Cuba, Chile, and Venezuela. Later during the 1960’s the main destinations for emigrants were countries in Central Europe, and also the United States – especially Newark, where “Little Galicia” – the largest Galician community in the US – is located, as well as New York City.
- This sculptural group is devoted to Our Lady of Guidance from Gomesende – patron saint of emigrants and refugees. Emigrants prayed for Her guidance.
- It’s a depiction of the Flight into Egypt when Mary, Joseph and Jesus – the first refugees of the Christian tradition fled from King Herod. The Virgin with infant son Jesus in her arms on a donkey – led by Joseph headed toward the same direction that in the past locals emigrating from Celanova would take.
- A plaque reads: “Nosa Señora da Guía, patrona dos emigrantes e refuxiados. Ora pro nobis.” (Our Lady of Guidance – patron saint of emigrants and refugees. Pray for us.”)
- The sculpture was inaugurated on April 2nd 2016 and donated by José López Gil – former priest of Gomesende. It’s a work by sculptor José Luis Garrido.
MUSEUMS / EXHIBITIONS
TORRE DA HOMENAXE
(Celanova (Vilanova dos Infantes))
- The first floor houses a model of the “Terra de Celanova“ district including the landmarks among which are shrines.
- On the third floor there’s an exhibition about Our Lady of Crystal:
- replica of Our Lady of Crystal (on one side younger and on the other older)
- pictures of the costumes worn during the processional guild dance of the shoemakers in honor to Our Lady that take place on September 15th.
- pictures from the early 20th century of inhabitants of Vilanova during the enactment of story narrated in the poem “A Virxe de Cristal” (Our Lady of Crystal) by Curros Enríquez.
- Desde el mirador en el último piso se puede ver a lo lejos el Santuario de la Virgen del Cristal
MUSEO ICONOGRÁFICO ASER SEARA
MUSEO ICONOGRÁFICO ASER SEARA
- This museum houses a collection of popular religious art, mainly sculptures based on Marian themes.
Museo Iconográfico Aser Seara
MUSEO DE ARTE SACRA DE SANTA CLARA
SANTA CLARA MUSEUM OF SACRED ART
- This museum houses a collection of religious art and is located within the Monastery of Santa Clara founded by Queen Violant of Aragón – married to King Alphonse X of Castile. It’s also where according to the legend of Our Lady of Crystal Rosa retired, and where Martiño died.
Museo de Arte Sacra de Santa Clara
PR-G143 ROTEIRO DO RÍO ARNOIA
PR-G143 RIVER ARNOIA TRAIL
Roteiro do Río Arnoia