Crossroads in San Martín de Xuvia

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Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
20 April 2024 Saturday 17:02
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Crossroads in San Martín de Xuvia

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

Also called San Martiño do Couto (of the Coto), the monastery of San Martín de Xuvia places us in the municipality of Narón, on the edge of the Ferrol estuary. It is a National Historical-Artistic Monument (1972) and the protagonist of this report in La Vanguardia's Readers' Photos.

Located on the first stage of the Jacobean route of the Camino Inglés from Ferrol to Santiago. It is also the beginning of the Camino to San Andrés de Teixido.

The mists at the bottom of the estuary, combined with the legendary mists, say about it – without documentary support – that it began with a small group of Portuguese monks who escaped from the monastery of San Martín de Dumio (Braga) because of the Moors and that in In the 9th century it was destroyed by Vikings and Saracens and rebuilt by Duke-Bishop Argimiro.

Its diplomatic collection (letters of donation, royal privileges, papal bulls, cartularies...) tell us that in the 11th century the powerful Froilaz family, Counts of Traba and Trastámara, began the Romanesque construction in which they quickly established residence and family pantheon. transfer to the Order of Cluny

Thus begins for this Cistercian monastery, so closely linked to the history of Galicia, a period of great splendor, which leads it to be one of the main ones in Spain. Alfonso VII confirms all the previous privileges and Ferdinand II gives protection to the important monastic preserve in his area.

Donations are accumulating in search of a worthy burial place for those distinguished families. Thus we can contemplate several medieval tombs, including that of the knight Rodrigo Esquío, from the 15th century, a relative of the famous troubadour Fernando Esquio from the 13th century, the one who wrote his Cantigas de amor dolorido…

I now have to bring you this complaint: / that you do not come to break my dream / for the beauty of good looks / who has the greatest pleasure in killing me; / Well, she didn't want to do me any good, / What do you want from me, Love?

In the middle of the 13th century, the monastery became the property of Realengo and pressure from the nobility on its property and estates began, especially the Counts of Andrade, lords of the vast region of Eume and Trasancos who considered it their property. The priors asked the Pope for help against the abuses "of some great and powerful people with whom we could not see directly on this Earth."

These events and the overexploitation of Cluny combined with a degeneration of monastic life caused its decline. In 1518 it passed to the Benedictine Order depending on other Galician monasteries.

In 1745, Father Sarmiento, an illustrious chronicler and traveler, spent a night in this priory, then governed by the learned friar Felipe Colmenero, who records that such a prior: "He has a parchment notebook in handwriting from the 13th century, which contains many donations, all Latin, and some very old.

The bell tower and what remains of the monastic rooms are the work of the 18th century. After the Confiscation, in 1836, the church became a parish church, being recently restored, while the convent is in a total state of abandonment. It would be interesting, given its history and the landscape environment of its location, if its reconstruction for cultural uses would soon be addressed.