As in the case of Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos, talking about Vallespinoso de Aguilar and its hermitage of Santa Cecilia, involves stopping a few moments to reflect, considering that concepts such as Art and Nature can become indivisible and capture the admiration in identical and proportional, without one or the other rivalicen and resent.
The environment, in fact, suggests it; especially when, just a few miles from Aguilar and its brand new reservoir, and shortly after entering the town, we discovered, like a romantic appearance, a building with stylized and elegant lines, half church half fortress, elevated above the most high on a small rocky promontory, dominates a singular valley in which, despite watching the hand of man, it is difficult not to pause for a moment to think of that wonderful Shangri-Lá described by James Hilton in an endearing novel that would consecrate one of the most important films of Frank Capra: Lost Horizons.
A small rock formation, which takes the form of a semicircle, or failing that, of a small sickle, acts as a natural border, sheltering some fields that, sitting on the shore of a tiny and serpentine stream, They decorate with colors as vivid as those others that, although artificial, could be found in the palette of an impressionist painter.
The soft golden wheat fields, waved by the light breeze of the morning, alternates with the flirtatious elegance of cheerful sunflowers, always determined to face the sun; next to these, a small terroir of poppies displays, in the intimate union of its leaves, banners of a passion red, that bring to the memory, even the atavistic, the banners carried by the Christian hosts in their overwhelming advance during the Reconquest from the country.
Witness of a story written in blood, in the thousand-year-old walls of the church, a thousand and one messages remain written with the indelible ink of dreams: the stone.
A worked stone that goes back, at least, to the 12th century, but that continues to offer a message that, more or less distorted nine centuries later, future generations seem to have forgotten, because it substitutes words for symbols and we have lost the gift of penetrate these and take away their intrinsic truth.
And yet, barely crossed the threshold of the arch that crosses the access to the sacred precinct, old myths assail us with the magnetic force of the ancient legends transmitted orally to the heat of the hearth fire.
The principle of opposites; or of duality, a concept that perpetuates a frightful struggle that will never end, because both complement each other and only have to maintain a necessary balance, since one would not exist without the other.
Knight and dragon or serpent, condemned to face until the consummation of time, in a theme very characteristic of medieval imagery, which is complemented by other elements related to a fantastic spiritual conception, whose keys arose, probably, in the dawn of the times and in the depths of the caverns.
Perhaps those same caverns to which centuries, millennia later, came to take refuge characters of dubious origin that, protected by the illusion of God, were reunited with obscure knowledge, whose transmission, somehow defined in code, would spread through the mallet and of the chisel with which later the medieval stonemasons interspersed concepts of varied origin and philosophy, with new ones based on the dogmas of the dominant religion.
Therefore, it is even possible that the harpies, for example, which are also found on the capitals of Santa Cecilia, respond, in some way, to these archaic knowledge and even to the visions experienced by the hermit in the gloomy amniotic matrix constituted by his voluntary retirement, giving rise to the association of sin and lust that usually carry as a letter of presentation, being very close, perhaps too much, of other scenes based on the Old and New Testaments, tending to cultualize some people who, in In the background, little or nothing had been denied of more autochthonous and primitive beliefs.
Angels and demons alternating with that bestial influence akin to centaurs and warriors, barely separated by an apothecary that, although of unidentifiable origin in numerous cases, offers, however, a truthful proof of the knowledge that our ancestors had of the environment and its properties .
Curiosities aside, they offer no respite so that the mundane also has its place, without going any further, in an apse in whose corbels two different types of knowledge are represented, represented by the bird and the serpent - in this case, the one twisted on the peak of the other - with a playful, human activity, motivated by music and eroticism.
Possibly, the examples of the latter are not as abundant here as in other temples of the province or adjoining provinces, such as Cantabria, but they are sufficiently illustrative to suppose them to witness the passage of more permissive influences regarding the concept of sex and religion .
Stonemasons of difficult and untraceable trace, but that, judging by the marks where they stamped their signature - arrows, pentalfas or legs of goose (1) - seemed to migrate the conscience towards a vision of the future -like the famous quatrains of Michel de Notre Dame or Nostradamus - leaving us, at the same time, for its amazing resemblance, an ancestor of the arroba.
Themes and signs that continue to unfold inside a temple that is already beginning to dream of Gothic proportions, and where we meet again the theme of a Samson -common in several churches of the province- that, in the manner of a knight equestrian , tear the jaws of a beast in theory much stronger than him.
And is that the lion, applying a more than possible hidden significance, represents, apart from Jesus Christ, a beast very difficult to master: Knowledge.
Here, then, is a personal vision of a temple to be visited, leaving behind the immutable rigidity of the typically orthodox postulates, with eyes eager for a reader, because without a doubt it constitutes a classic that, despite the time and the human ingratitude that together have lacerated much of his message, still has many things to tell.
[To the person who kindly attended us this summer, opening the church and allowing us to wander at will for her, my most sincere thanks].
Notes, References and Bibliography:
(1) In this regard, I consider it fair to review the detail and good work of the granddaughter of the woman who teaches the church (unfortunately, I ignore their names), who traced on a sheet of paper the numerous stonework marks that can be located in various points and stones of the church, and that are made available to anyone interested in seeing them.
NOTICE: Originally published in my blog ROMÁNICA, ENIGMAS DEL ROMÁNICO ESPAÑOL. Both the text and the photographs that accompany it are my exclusive property. The original entry, where you can check the authorship of juancar347, can be found at the following address: https://juancar347-romanica.blogspot.com/2010/11/vallespinoso-de-aguilar-palencia.html
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Original content by @juancar347
[Martial, latin poet]
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