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Covadonga

by Horacio Espinosa
Templo principal

As many of you already know, I am not a close scholar in religious matters. When they told me that a trip I was taking included a visit to the Sanctuary of Covadonga, I really had to read what it was … given that I did not know everything about the existence of this Shrine in Asturias. Sorry if I hurt any reader but just think of my ignorance.

We begin with the data that you investigate and hear about the Sanctuary of Covadonga

There is nothing written about the beginnings of the cult to the Virgin Mary in the Cave of Covadonga, rather we must refer to the tradition. The same refers that this Cave of Covadonga served as a retreat to a hermit, who had dedicated it to the cult of the Virgin, whose image there venerated.

Later in time, with the invasion of the Moors, a Christian named Pelayo, a refugee of the Moors with others of his companions in those mountains, entered that cave chasing a malefactor. When he met the hermit, he begged Pelayo to forgive him, since he had accepted the protection of the Virgin, and that someday he would also have the need to seek in the Cave the protection and help of Our Lady.

Some historians think that the most likely thing is that, Pelayo and the Christians, in the flight through those mountains, would have taken with them some image of the Virgin, and that they have placed her in the Cave to implore her protection, or that they had put her there after the victory obtained, in order to worship Mary Most Holy in memory and gratitude for the triumph obtained by her mediation. And, later, Pelayo, wishing to pay Mary a perennial tribute, built an altar to the Virgin Mary in the same cave.

Beyond the differences in history, the Arab Chronicles, when speaking of Covadonga, affirm that in this Cave the weakened forces of Pelayo found refuge, feeding on the honey that the bees had produced in the hives built in the crevices of the rocks.

Before her the so-called “Battle of Covadonga” was fought and it would become one of “the first stones of Christian Europe”. The old chronicles put in Pelayo’s mouth this affirmation: “Our hope is in Christ and from this little mountain will come the salvation of Spain”. This was the northernmost point where they could enter the Muslim armies that dominated the peninsula at that time.

King Alfonso I and his wife, Mrs. Hermesinda, built a church and three altars were erected there, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, in the mystery of her Nativity; another to San Juan Bautista and the third to San Andrés. In addition, in order to pay tribute to a continuous cult of the Mother of God, these monarchs founded a monastery.

The writing of foundation that is attributed to Alfonso I says that it makes delivery of the church to the Benedictine monks; bring the list of donations of objects for worship and privileges and sign the King and Queen, three bishops, two abbots and some knights. Send an image of Our Lady from the Monsacro. This temple built in the crevice of the rock was called “the miracle” given that being built with wood and located on the abyss, this was a real miracle that stood.

Now, as for the visit itself, the Sanctuary is on top of some mountains known as the roof of Asturias. It is a somewhat steep climb but the bus could go without problem.

When I arrived, I did not know sincerely what I was going to find, we received a very large temple that one can not imagine how it came to be built in that place.

We parked and headed to the cave, here something special happened. We were a large group and despite this gained silence, the sounds of creation were heard.

We start climbing the stairs until we reach the cave. Shortly before arriving there is a stone plaque written in Old Spanish that remembers that in that place the remains of Don Pelayo lie.

When we arrived at the cave itself, the silence was very great, we all felt that something special had happened there. We could have a reflection of the priest who accompanied us and a time of personal prayer, that time was very deep, I do not know why, but I know that Covandonga was a special moment on that trip.

At the end of our personal time, we went down from the cave to the esplanade of the temple, to prepare for the celebration of the Holy Mass.

After the same we had a time to enjoy the views, and then down to the nearest town, called Cangas de Onis, part of the National Park where the Sanctuary is located.

Traveler Tips

  • If you want to visit Covadonga, I suggest you read the most complete story, it is very interesting and helps to understand why devotion.
  • Give yourself a time of silence in the Cave, as I told you, something profound happens in it.
  • Know Cangas de Onís, it is very close to the Sanctuary and it is a charming town.

Eat at Viñatería El Paco, especially taste the baby

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