Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Asturian tale...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

We read that there was to be a celebration of the recent restoration of a 13th century romanesque church near Ribadesella in the area of Monte Moro: Iglesia De San Salvador.  What was more interesting was that the church had well preserved wall frescoes from the 16th Century not discovered until the civil war in the 1930's. A trip to see them was planned...

The church has recently been renovated and partially restored mainly due to the perseverance of local people who for the past 78 years have struggled to get their simple but significant church protected from further decay.

The story goes that the church was built in the 13th century to serve the local agricultural population from the nearby villages of Sardalla, Dezangos, Nocedo and Tresmonte which nestle in the rich green pastures and mountains just off the coast. As well as addressing religious affairs, the church would have served as a meeting place to discuss local issues and for trading goods and local gossip.

In the 16th century, a priest, bishop or wealthy patron commissioned a series of wall frescoes depicting God as the saviour, the last supper, the passion of the Christ, the ascension to heaven and the wrath of the devil. As most people were unable to read or write, the frescoes served as strong symbolism to reinforce the word of the church.

Some time between the 16th and the 19th century, the frescoes were covered in a lime wash, probably to disinfect the building following an outbreak of disease that was decimating the local population. The meeting place was recognised as a possible source of contamination. An extension to the original church and bell tower was added in the 19th century.

The frescoes faded from memory until 1936 when the church was partially destroyed by fire during the Spanish civil war. Parts of the lime wash began to crumble and expose elaborate wall paintings underneath.

The local parishioners continued to worship in the church despite the roof of the extension being open to the elements. If it rained, they would open their umbrellas and continue with their prayers.

The church has been renovated but there is still work to do. A new roof has replaced the charred remains of the extension, some of the frescoes have been further revealed and cleaned but there is much more to do and reveal. Drainage has been improved around the church to reduce humidity in an effort to preserve the delicate paintings and the walls have been rendered on the outside.

The rear of the church floor remains covered in very uneven limestone flags whilst the original building's floor has had a horrible scree of concrete lain. I only hope this is a temporary fix as it really does detract from the naive beauty of this piece of Asturian history. Apparently, on excavation, graves were found from the main doorway through to the alter. When money permits, further restoration work will be done to the frescoes and further renovation work done to the church. Let's hope the floors are restored as opposed to renovated, concrete just doesn't work.

1 comment:

Click link to read more.