Saint Rudesind and his Family

Count Gutier Menéndez and countess Ilduara (or Aldara) Ériz were part of the Galician nobility related to the Asturleonese royalty. Elvira Menéndez –  a paternal aunt of Rudesindus – was married to King Ordoño II and had five children, three of them kings: Sancho Ordóñez – married to a daughter of Munio, brother of Rudesindus -, Alfonso IV, and Ramiro II – married to a cousin of Rudesindus on his father’s side, which became mother of another king: Ordoño III.

Among other places they lived during some time in Salas – today Santo Tirso in Portugal – and finally in the castle of Vilanova. They had five children: Munio Gutiérrez, Rudesindus Gutiérrez, Froila Gutiérrez, Adosinda Gutiérrez, and Hermesinda Gutiérrez.

They were an aristocratic and highly educated family of the 10th century and as such probably owned imported luxury commodities from Al-Andalus. As usual at that time among the nobility they and other relatives founded or reformed several monasteries in Galicia or were in charge of them.

Rudesindus Gutiérrez was born on November 26th 907 – probably in Salas, San Tirso, Portugal – and died in Celanova on March 1rst 977.

Being a member of the nobility he got a good education and studied with his uncle Savaricus – bishop of Mondoñedo. When the latter died, Rudesindus – then only 18 years old – took his place.  He later also became bishop of Iria Flavia (Santiago de Compostela), monk of the monastery of Celanova, and its abbot after the passing of the first abbot – Franquila – in 955.

He was also viceroy of Galicia and defended its territory from attacks from Normans and from the armies of Al-Andalus.

Being the abbot of the monastery of Celanova he held several titlesarchdeacon of Celanova, count of Bande, marquis of Sande, and Chaplain of the Royal House – and also had the authority over more than fifty entities among monasteries, priories, and churches.

Just like King Alphonse III (ca. 852 -910), Rudesindus played in Galicia a very important role in the resettlement of new territories with Mozarabic population, in the reconstruction of churches, and in the reconstruction and founding of monasteries as, well as in spreading the presence of the Benedictine Order.

There are many legends regarding Rudesindus’ life: his birth, his baptism, the foundation of the monastery of Celanova, the transfer of the relics of Saint Torquatus from Bande, the defense of the Sande Castle against the Portuguese, etc…

Nowadays his memory still lives on:

  • Rudesindus and his mother are saints: Saint Rudesind (March 1rst) and Saint Aldara (December 20th).
  • Saint Rudesind is the patron saint of Celanova and his feast day is a local celebration.
  • Since 1992 Santo Tirso, Portugal – where he was allegedly born – and Celanova are twin cities.
  • Saint Rudesind is present in Latin America: in the “Catedral de San Rosendo” (Cathedral of Saint Rudesind) in Pinar del Río, Cuba; and in a town in Chile called San Rosendo in honor of this saint.

His family inheritance became part of the patrimony of the monastery of Celanova.

ARCHITECTURE

TORRE DA HOMENAXE
KEEP
(Celanova (Vilanova dos Infantes))

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1949

  • This keep is what remains of the fortress of the 10th century that in 927 King Sancho Ordónez ( 895-929) granted “count Gutier, his wife Ilduara, and their children”.
  • King Alphonse III (866-910) had granted Vilanova and its grounds to Rudesindus’ paternal grandfather – Duke D. Hermenegild / Mendo Gutiérrez (c. 850-912) – in return for his services: the conquest of Coimbra in 878.
  • During the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula (722-1492) this area was a border “limes” and it was very important to control the territory south of river Miño. Later on this castle along with others defended the “Limiam” territory playing a decisive role in the wars waged against the Portuguese.
  • This castle became part of the patrimony of the monastery of Celanova.
    Keep

 

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ANTIGO MOSTEIRO DE SANTA MARÍA DE VILANOVA
FORMER SAINT MARY’S MONASTERY AT VILANOVA
(Celanova (Vilanova dos Infantes))

Style: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic (ca. 930-940)

  • Following a tradition common at that time among royalty and high nobility Rudesindus’ mother – countess Ilduara, after having become a widow, founded around 930-940 a monastery in Mozarabic style: Saint Mary’s Monastery. She retired there, and became – as well as later her daughter Adosinda – abbess of the monastery.
  • Other women of the nobility and probably two “infantas” (princesses) – daughters of King Alphonse X- lived in this monastery, hence the town became known as Vilanova das Infantes (later Vilanova dos Infantes).
  • It was later annexed to the monastery of Celanova – possibly as a male priory – and the nuns moved to Allariz.
  • It is assumed that it was similar to the Chapel of Saint Michael.
  • The church of the monastery stood until 1880, but it collapsed and shortly after the stones were sold.
  • It is believed that this monastery was built where today the Church of San Salvador de Vilanova dos Infantes stands, close to which is the rectory, in whose backyard are to be found two Mozarabic corbels of lobes from the former monastery of Saint Mary that are similar to those of the Chapel of Saint Michael of the monastery of Celanova.
  • In the inside of the Church of San Salvador de Vilanova dos Infantes there’s a Romanesque Christ on the Cross – bearing a royal crown – (ca. 1220) carved in wood resembling a tree (1.85 m.). It is believed to come from the former monastery. It’s considered to be the most important sample of its kind in Galicia.

 

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MOSTEIRO DE SAN SALVADOR DE CELANOVA
SAINT SAVIOUR’S MONASTERY IN CELANOVA
(Celanova)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931 (since 1932 the Chapel of Saint Michael) & Europa Nostra Award (1984)

Styles: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic (Chapel of Saint Michael), Romanesque, Renaissance & Baroque

  • It dates back to 936 AD.
  • The Chapel of Saint Michael is the only original construction that remains of the monastery built in the 10th century, when Rudesindus lived. It was dedicated to Froila – one of Rudesindus’ brothers.
    Capela de San Miguel
  • On left-hand side of the façade of the church there is a depiction of Saint Rudesind as a bishop.
  • Upon entering the church, on the right-hand side in Saint Rudesind’s altar piece the saint is depicted as a bishop.
  • In upper left-hand corner of the altar piece of the main altar there is an image of Saint Rudesind depicted as a warrior (from left to right, along with Saint James, Saint Aemilian, and Saint Ferdinand) on account of his military defense of Galicia.
  • Below also on the left-hand side of the altar piece of the main altar there’s a figure of Saint Rudesind depicted as a bishop, and right below there’s the reliquary urn of Saint Rudesind.
  • Seated on the left-hand side of the Low Choir, we can see depictions of scenes of the life of Saint Rudesind: the first is that of the annunciation of his birth to his mother by archangel Michael and the last one is that of Saint Rudesind’s death.
  • Rudesindus’ mother – Ilduara – made many donations to this monastery and she was buried within it – in the altarpiece of Saint Rudesind – as requested by her son.
  • Froila Gutiérrez – one of Rudesindus’ brothers – and his wife Sarracina donated the grounds – previously previously inherited from his father – where the monastery of Celanova was built, and they left all their patrimony to the monastery.
    Mosteiro de Celanova

 

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ESTATUA DE SAN ROSENDO
STATUE OF SAINT RUDESIND
(Celanova)

  • A work by Manuel Buciños it was inaugurated on March 1rst (Saint Rudensind’s feast’s day) 1977 – the millennium of Rudesindus’ passing.
  • Saint Rudesind is depicted as a bishop.
  • That same year a street in Celanova was named after him.

 

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

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931
Estilo: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic

  • This church is what remains of a former family-owned double monastery (of nuns and monks).
  • Guntrode – its abbess in 982 – was a relative of Rudesindus.
  • In 1043 it became a priory and farm of the monastery of Celanova and therefore dependent on it.
    Igrexa de San Martiño de Pazó

 

COLEXIATA DE SANTA MARÍA A REAL
SAINT MARY’S COLEGIATE ROYAL CHURCH
(Xunqueira de Ambía)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931
Styles: Romanesque (1164), Gothic, Plateresque & Renaisssance

  • It’s one of the most important samples of rural Romanesque architecture in Galicia.
  • It’s what remains of an ancient Pre-Romanesque monastery founded in 955 by relatives of Rudesindus – Gonçalo Froila and his wife Ilduara / Aldara. Their sarcophagi – currently in Romanesque style – are in the cloister: there’s an “A” and a crescent over Aldara’s and a long sword and two birds over Gonçalo’s.
    Colexiata de Santa María a Real

 

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

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

  • Towards 935 Gonçalo Froila and his wife Ilduara – relatives of Rudesindus – founded a monastery devoted to Saint Mary where the Church of Saint Euphemia stands today.
    Igrexa de Santa Eufemia de Ambía

 

MUSEUMS

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

 

MUSEO CATEDRALICIO DE OURENSE
CATHEDRAL MUSEUM OF OURENSE
(Ourense)

  • It houses a collection of a sacred art.
    • “Tesoro de San Rosendo” (Treasure of Saint Rudesind), made up by artifacts that have a legendary bond with Saint Rudesind, but that couldn’t have belonged to him because their origin is later than the time in which he lived.

 

FESTIVAL

FESTA DE SAN ROSENDO
SAINT RUDESIND’S FEAST
(Celanova)

Date: March 1rst (St. Rudesind’s feast day)

  • There’s a procession during which the reliquary urn of Saint Rudesind is paraded around the Baroque cloister and later mass is held in the church.
  • That day new members of the Confraternity of Saint Rudesind of Celanova are granted their medals.
  • “As Marzas” – a festival of pagan origin probably linked to the ancient celebration of the new Roman year and the main celebration in Celanova in the past – is related to this day.

 

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

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