Segovia - Church of San Millan
Segovia, UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the capital of the kingdom of Castile and the residence of the kings from the 13th to 15th centuries..
A thousand meters above sea level surrounded by medieval walls, Segovia unfolds its charm between the Alcazar and the Roman aqueduct.
It is certainly a city capable of preserving memories: from the Roman aqueduct to the Arabic inscriptions, to the Alcazar (redone several times starting from the eleventh century).
Its period of maximum splendor was probably that which followed the 'reconquista' of 1088 until the transfer of the court of Castile from Segovia to Toledo in the XV century..
The splendid church of San Millan dates back to this period.
San Millan (as handed down by Braulion, his sixth century hagiographer and bishop of Saragossa) lived between the fifth and sixth centuries.
He was the son of a pastor and pastor of his time until when he turned twenty, he decided not to become a hermit and retreated to the Sierra della Demanda, then practically depopulated.
He lived for 40 years in hermitage until his bishop appointed him parish priest.
But he was the object of envy of the neighboring parish priests (he was accused of dispersing the church's assets to give them to the poors!) and downgraded again to a simple hermit, which the good Millan accepted willingly.
He was the founder of the Cogolla monasteries of Yuso and Suzo, where he lived here until the 101 years of age, totally indifferent to the Arab conquest of those territories.
After his death, on the other hand, he assumed a very important role.
The quiet and humble hermit turned himself into a warrior by participating directly - three centuries after his death - at the Battle of Simancas in 939 and becoming the reference Saint of the 'reconquista'.
It is in fact portrayed with a flaming sword in his hand.
In his monasteries as formed and lived Gonzalo de Berceo, the first poet in Castilian.
In the monastery of Yuso are preserved the 'glossae emilianensis' which are the oldest known documents in Castilian and Basque.
When Alfonso I de Aragon (el Batallador) marries in 1109 doña Urraca I de León (marriage declared void by lack of heirs ...) and becomes 'emperador de todas las Españas' thinks well to repay the saint by dedicating him the church of Segovia.
And the recognition of the battallador must have been great given the magnificence of the decorations.
The Romanesque church expresses the best taste of time: two porticoed galleries decorated by the best stone cutters of the period on the modillions, on the capitals and even in the attic tiles between one modillion and another.
Hundreds of testimonies of the twelfth century sent to our eyes. Time has certainly deprived us of the pleasure of reading many of these testimonies, but what remains is not little!
The first thing that strikes is the continuity of the Spanish Romanesque with the European Romanesque of those years.
The symbols are the same that can be found between Sicily and Normandy, between Portugal and Serbia.
They witness an impressive cultural unity of which Europeans are children (or perhaps degenerate children, since they often compete to deny it!) In times when communication was entrusted - instead of the internet - to the skilled hands of valiant stonecutters.
The first symbol is the two-tailed mermaid: it is represented at least three times outside the church and once inside (about the capitals inside we do not take into account because the permission of the Bishop is necessary for taking pictures).
There is a beautiful chimera with the goat's head on the back, centaurs archers, Samson intent on smashing lions, contortionists-acrobats, musicians, mens with erect penis, the man who exhibits the long beard ...
The pilgrim (with the stick in his hand and the conch of Santiago on the upper left), ordinary work figures (the man with the scythe ...), the storks (ubiquitous in the region), have a 'local' imprint. And many others are illegible to the ravages of time or for the limitation of our knowledge.
A precious treasure of images that was handed down to us nine centuries ago.