The most interesting feature of the Chapel of El Pilar is the 18th century marble altarpiece, on which we can see the two patron saints of Spain, the Virgin of the Pillar, or El Pilar, and the Apostle St. James, who is kneeling at her feet.
According to legend, the mother of Jesus was still alive when, in the year 40AD, she appeared to the Apostle on the banks of the River Ebro. The Virgin Mary wished to encourage the saint in his task of preaching, which had apparently been rather unsuccessful so far. She told him not to cease in his endeavour, as Christianity would eventually triumph in Spain.
Take a look at the octagonal vaulted ceiling, which is made of finely carved stone. If you would like to admire the ornate praying statue on the tomb of Archbishop Monroy, you will have to look upwards – closer to Heaven than to earth. By the way, the shells on the saint’s cape are fossils.
The next chapel is known as the Chapel of Mondragón. It gets its name from the clergyman who founded it, not from the town in the Basque country. In it, you can see an unusual Descent from the Cross over the altar, with almost life-size terracotta figures, and which dates form 1526.
Next we come to the Chapel of St. Peter, which retains its Romanesque structure almost intact, although partly hidden by the Baroque altar.
If you continue in the same direction, you will reach the Holy Doorway, the outside of which can be seen from the Quintana facade. The statues are by Master Mateo, and were part of a stone choir that is now in the museum. This chapel is only opened in Compostelan Holy Years.
The next chapel is that of El Salvador, or The Saviour. It is the only one that is rectangular, to fit the central space in the ambulatory.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)
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