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Dear visitor, welcome to Logroño and its Co-Cathedral of Santa María de La Redonda. It is a temple built thanks to the deep faith of the people of this city and visited throughout the centuries by its parishioners, travellers and countless pilgrims on their way to Compostela, in search of moments of meditation and prayer.
We will tell you a bit of history before delving into this place full of art and spirituality. The city of Logroño appears documented for the first time in the year 956, as a small village on the banks of the Ebro. With the gradual increase in pilgrims to Compostela, it is gaining in importance. Aware of this, King Alfonso VI of Castile granted a charter in 1095, by which the citizens of the kingdom and foreigners could establish their residence in this town of La Rioja. This measure greatly favoured their economic and cultural development.
After these historical data that testify to the long relevance of the capital of La Rioja over time, it is time to start your visit to the Co-Cathedral of Logroño. Together with the cathedrals of Calahorra and Santo Domingo de La Calzada, they make up a unique case in the Catholic world, being a diocese with three cathedrals.
The current cathedral headquarters stands on a primitive Romanesque temple with a round or polygonal plan documented in the year 1196. From there it acquires the current name of «La Redonda». In 1435 it obtained the rank of Collegiate Church by merging with the now-defunct Collegiate Church of Albelda. A century later, between the years 1516 and 1538, the chapter of the Collegiate Church proposes to renovate the temple to give it a higher category. The Romanesque church is demolished and a new late-Gothic temple is erected, divided into three naves of the same height. The central nave is wider, and the three naves are separated by eight slender columns that open out to form lavish ribbed vaults. The vaults are crossed by a set of straight and curved ribs that come together in beautifully decorated keystones. The harmony of the space and the height of these naves make this temple one of the most relevant examples of religious architecture in La Rioja.
2. Epistle nave
We begin our visit to the sacred enclosure through the Epistle nave where there are four chapels. The first of them is the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace. In it, there is the tomb of the Ponce de León family, the donor family of the chapel. On a frieze of skulls, the majestic relief of the Resurrection is housed. The risen Christ rises from the tomb, on the left the holy women come to verify the extraordinary event, while on the opposite side we see a group of soldiers surprised by the event. The altarpiece of the Virgin of Peace completes this funerary chapel. In the lower part, we can distinguish the bas-reliefs of “The Annunciation”, “The Nativity” and “The Flight into Egypt”. Above them, presiding over the complex, we contemplate the delicate carving of the Virgin of Peace. Mary presents us her Son who rests on her lap. The image is escorted by the arrow-shaped effigy of Saint Sebastian and by that of Saint Catherine. In the central box of the attic, flanked by the reliefs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, we see the seated carving of Ecce Homo. Jesús Nazareno, dying from pain, gently bends over to accept without protest the chalice that he is suffering for the redemption of the human being.
Crowning this altarpiece we see an original representation of Calvary; Crucified Christ accompanied by the Virgin Mary, the Apostle Saint John and Mary Magdalene at his feet. Lastly, we contemplate on the side flap a beautiful sculpture of the Apostle Saint James, who accompanies our pilgrimage in the temple and in life. Master Anse was the architect of this extraordinary artistic creation carried out between the years 1544-1550.
Next, is the Chapel of the Cross. In it, we can see some colourful Spanish-Flemish tables, from the parish of Saint Martin of Bezares, by Andrés de Melgar and Alonso Gallego from La Rioja, and the image of the Virgin of Sorrows (processional carving from the mid-20th century). On the left side wall is the delicate alabaster Calvary, attributed to the French-born sculptor Gabriel Yoly.
The next chapel, the only one without a partition, is the chapel of the Pietà or the Virgin of the Pillar. This carving presides over the altarpiece crowned by Santo Dominic de la Calzada, patron saint of the diocese. Flanking the altarpiece there are two large canvases that show the conversion of Saint Francis Borgia and his entry into the Society of Jesus, from the old Jesuit convent. On the side wall there is a simple altarpiece presided over by a seated Gothic carving of the Virgin, to which the devotion of the city’s executed is attributed. Above it, there is the rococo image of Saint John the Baptist, while a beautiful Spanish-Flemish relief of the Pietà finishes off the ensemble.
Closed by an elaborate lattice decorated with the shields of the orders of Calatrava and Saint James, we arrive at the Chapel of the Visitation. A silver and ivory image of the Virgin of Valvanera, patron saint of La Rioja, presides over this space, while on the side we see a small altarpiece with the evangelical scene of The Visitation of the Virgin Mary to her cousin Saint Elizabeth. The attic is occupied by Saint Aemilian of Cogolla on a white horse.
After contemplating the chapels of the nave of the epistle, we arrive at the ambulatory of the co-cathedral located behind the main altarpiece. We access through the Royal Chapel of Saint Christ. On the right wall is the arcosolium tomb of its founder, Bishop Pedro González de Castillo. He was an important ecclesiastic related to the court of Philip III, of great liturgical and artistic sensitivity, a lover of this city and who renounced the archiepiscopal seat of Granada to remain in Logroño until his death occurred in the smell of sanctity.
The altarpiece is the work of Juan Bascardo, one of the most outstanding artists of his time. It has a bench, a body with three streets and an attic. On the bench we distinguish, among the sculptures of the four evangelists, the reliefs of the scenes of “The Lavatory” and the “Prayer in the Garden”. In the central niche, on a background where the city of Jerusalem is represented, we contemplate the sober and majestic figure of the Crucified. It is a life-size Gothic carving from the 15th century. This magnificent representation of Christ on the cross has always enjoyed great popular devotion, especially among farmers. Therefore, the denomination as the Christ of the Farmers. The faithful people have always understood that the Cross is not a defeat, but the prelude to the definitive triumph over death that will come with the Resurrection. The image of the Crucified is accompanied by the sculptures of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and above them, the reliefs of Faith and Charity. Among the coats of arms of the donors, the set is finished off by the delicate figure of the Immaculate Conception, the work of the brilliant sculptor Gregorio Fernández.
Opposite, we can contemplate the delicate relief of the Assumption and Coronation of Mary. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most important flamenco ensembles in La Rioja’s artistic heritage, coming from the Priory of Somalo. It represents the moment in which the Virgin Mary, at the end of her life, is elevated to Heaven in body and soul. The angels accompany her in her transit to be crowned as Queen of the Universe.
At its foot there is an original baptismal font in the Romanesque style (1537) decorated with geometric motifs. For generations countless children of Logroño have been baptised there. By Baptism we are freed from sin, regenerated as children of God, and incorporated into his Church. It is the foundation of the Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the gateway to the rest of the sacraments.
On the left, over the door that gives access to the sacristy, are the anonymous canvases on a miracle of Christ of the Farmers. Next to it, on the north wall, stands the mausoleum of General Espartero, an illustrious figure in the history of Spain who expressed his desire to be buried with his wife in this temple. Next to it, the monumental carving of Saint Thecla.
4. The Calvary (Michelangelo Buonarroti)
It is fortunate for the Co-Cathedral of Logroño to be able to guard this original work that the brilliant Miguel Ángel Buonarroti painted for Vittoria Colonna. It belonged to the private collection of Bishop Pedro González de Castillo.
Vittoria Colonna was the wife of Francisco de Ábalos, Marquis of Pescara and General of the imperial armies. She had roots from La Rioja and died in 1525 in the battle of Pavia. The great friendship between Michelangelo and Vittoria Colonna, now a widow, is reflected in their abundant correspondence. In the year 1540 she asked him for a small painting of Calvary that would preside over her private oratory. The process was long and before its realization, the artist drew several sketches that are currently kept in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and in the British Museum in London.
When Vittoria died (1547), Michelangelo recovered the painting and included her as Mary Magdalene embracing the cross. Thus, he culminated the evangelical scene of Christ crucified, with the Virgin Mary and Saint John at her feet.
It is a work full of symbols: Mary Magdalene with the Italian widow’s cloth on her shoulders, the repentance or rectification of the position of the Virgin’s left arm and the legend inscribed in Hebrew on the neck of the Crucified “Gibor” -the divine hero -. The extraordinary artistic quality and the profound symbolism make this work a unique jewel in Spain.
In gratitude to the artist, Vittoria wrote in 1540: “I was confident that God would give you a supernatural grace to make this Christ. After seeing it so admirable, it exceeds in all aspects any expectation. Encouraged by your prodigies, I desired what I now see wonderfully accomplished and that is the sum of perfection, to the point that one could not wish for more, and not even to wish for so much.”
5. Gospel nave
We continue our visit through the Gospel nave. As in the opposite nave, there are four beautifully barred chapels. The first of these is the Chapel of the Magi where there is an extraordinary Romanesque altarpiece, considered one of the most valuable Flemish reliefs in Spain. It was possibly carved in Antwerp in 1579. Inspired by the Epiphany of the Lord or Adoration of the Magi, its great dynamism and the contrast between the characters dressed in period costumes stand out. The attic is occupied by the relief of the Eternal Father, while in the lower part there are four reliquary niches. The canvases of “The Flight into Egypt” and “The Adoration of the Shepherds” that hang on the wall, show the dedication of this chapel to the nativity of the Lord.
Next, there is the Chapel of Saint Peter and the Relics. It is closed by the most striking Romanesque gate in all of La Rioja, made by Juan Tomás Celma and topped with sculptures of the seven virtues and different coats of arms. The central altarpiece houses the images of the Miraculous Virgin (centre), Saint Joseph and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The set of relics that are kept in the showcases belonged to the monastery of Saint Prudence -now in ruins-. In the centre, we notice the valuable bust-reliquary of Saint Prudence (1461), patron saint of Álava, and at his sides two La Rioja saints, Saint Felix del Monte and Saint Funes. Above them, three chests contain the relics of these saints.
The lateral Altarpiece has Saint Peter as its owner, who presides over the ensemble with the imposing effigy of him dressed as a pontiff and seated in his chair. At the base we find a representation of the Last Supper and at the top, a Calvary. The sides are decorated with paintings of the three virtues (faith, hope and charity). Completing the iconography of the altarpiece, the images of Saint Jerome and the Baptism of John, Saint Elizabeth, Saint Catherine and Saint Lucy.
Behind the sober latticework of the Chapel of Saint Ildefonsus, we discover the altarpiece attributed to Guillén de Holanda, organized in three streets and three bodies plus an attic. It surprises with its carvings of incomparable beauty. In the central niche of the first body we see a moving four-piece “Pieta” that overwhelms with passionate pain and the deep spiritual serenity that it inspires. To his right, a shocking figure of Ecce Homo or Christ the Man of Sorrows. The image of “The imposition of the chasuble on Saint Ildefonsus” occupies the central niche of the second body, flanked by the carvings of Saint Francis of Assisi and an unidentified saint. In the last body are Saint Bernardino of Siena, Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Anthony of Padua; one of the few saints represented with the Child Jesus in his arms. The set is crowned by a Calvary with its classic arrangement. Hanging from the right wall, we can admire a painting of the Holy Family that the Italian painter Il Parmigianino replicated from his teacher Raphael. In this chapel an exceptional sculpture of Saint Mary Magdalene (17th century) is venerated, a copy of the renowned carving of Pedro de Mena.
We arrive at the last chapel of the nave of the Gospel. It is the Chapel of Saint Blaise, which houses the sculpture of this saint from an old parish church in Logroño (17th century). In the centre we contemplate the magnificent altarpiece with six Flemish tables made by Gillis Coignet in Antwerp (1584). In the lower part are distributed the splendid images of The Assumption, The Epiphany and The Annunciation. In the upper part we contemplate the central image of the Resurrection of the Lord, flanked by the images of Saint Peter and Saint John the Baptist. It is the only altarpiece work preserved in Spain by this Flemish painter.
6. Main altarpiece
After this tour of the nave of the Gospel, it is time to contemplate the main altarpiece dedicated to Santa María de La Redonda, to whom the temple is dedicated. To admire it in detail, we invite you to take a seat on the front benches or contemplate it from the altar steps. Two excellent Plateresque pulpits embossed in wrought iron and dating from 1540 open the presbytery and the main altar.
This magnificent altarpiece, erected between 1684 and 1688, stands out for its slenderness. It has a large central street with the relief of the Tree of Jesse, a representation of the human and divine genealogy of Christ based on the prophecy of Isaiah. It reflects the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Birth of Christ as a fulfilment of said messianic prophecy. The figure of Santa María de La Redonda, an extraordinary Hispano-Flemish carving from the 15th century, presides over the ensemble on a cup-pedestal. The Child Jesus is on his mother’s lap. In the side streets, between lavish Solomonic columns, stand the effigies of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Crowning this magnificent set we can admire a majestic Mannerist-style Crucified from the 16th century. Christ died for us and in his redemptive sacrifice we are saved and justified. The attic, surrounded by different angels, is topped by the figure of the Eternal Father holding a world sphere in his left hand. Meanwhile, with his right hand he blesses us by raising three of his fingers, an evident trinitarian sign. In the vault we can see some Baroque paintings with allegories of the Marian litanies.
At the bottom of this spectacular sculptural ensemble is the baldachin-tabernacle. On its cover is the precious silver embossed image of the Immaculate Conception that seems to guard the greatest treasure that we can find in the temple, the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6, 35).
The Cathedral Chapter gathers in the choir for the liturgical celebration and prayer. The current one was built in 1607, it is closed with an elaborate Baroque latticework and has elaborate walnut stalls decorated with architectural motifs in the lower stalls and bas-reliefs with figures of saints in the upper ones. In the upper part, a canvas of the Crucified Christ is exhibited, a copy of an engraving by Rubens. The side is occupied by the imposing organ built by the master organ builder José Mañero in 1715. In 1995 it was restored for the last time, which is practically a reconstruction, by the Federico Acitores workshop.
8. Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels
Dear visitor, you have entered the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels, a sacred space built in 1756, like the two baroque towers (south side, Saint Paul and north side, Saint Peter). It is crowned by a majestic dome decorated with frescoes by the painter José Bejés (1770).
This magnificent pictorial ensemble represents the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and her Coronation as Queen of Heaven. Countless saints, many of them from La Rioja, jubilantly accompany this glorious mystery.
As soon as you enter this beautiful chapel, there is the Altar of Saint Barnabas, patron saint of the city of Logroño, flanked by images of Saint Roch and Saint Anthony.
Next, there is the Altarpiece of Our Lady of Solitude and of the Holy Sepulchre. The Mother of the Lord, suffering before the Passion and Death of her son, presides over the group. She is flanked by images of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, patron saint of pregnant women, and Saint Peter Nolasco, founder of the Order of Mercy. At the base of the altarpiece we contemplate the Holy Sepulchre of the Reclining Christ, which was donated, together with the Virgin of Solitude, by Captain Gabriel de Unsain (1694). It is a jewel of great artistic and religious value, which participates in the city’s Holy Week processions.
Next, we stop before the doors of the main entrance, in Rococo style. They are decorated with golden panels where a beautiful iconography of the Marian litanies of the Song of Songs is represented. Two large canvases of the Epiphany and the Circumcision of the Lord enrich the set.
We arrive at the Altar of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose image with the Child occupies the central niche. She is escorted by Saint Aloysius Gonzaga and Saint Cajetan, founder of the Theatine Order, while the effigy of the elderly Simeon, who is represented with the Child Jesus in his arms, crowns the ensemble.
Next to it, the altarpiece of three holy martyred women. The central niche is occupied by Saint Lucy, protector of sight, to whom the altarpiece is dedicated. She is flanked by Saint Agatha, intercessor of cancer diseases, and Saint Apollonia, whom she invokes against dental problems. In the attic is the image of Saint James the Less, apostle of the Lord.
It is time to contemplate the magnificent central altarpiece presided over by the image of Our Lady of the Angels, a delicate Spanish-Flemish carving from the 15th century of great popular devotion. In the upper part, she is accompanied by the images of three famous Jesuit saints, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Saint Francis de Borgia, and Saint Francis Xavier. The ensemble is crowned with the figure of the Eternal Father who, between rays of heavenly light, blesses us with his right hand. And at the feet of the Virgin, the greatest treasure of this chapel seems to go unnoticed, the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle. The risen Christ always remains alive in our midst.
We are finishing our visit, in which we have combined art, culture and faith. We hope it has been a pleasant experience for you. Before leaving the temple to continue on your way, we invite you to have a moment of recollection and prayer. You can accompany the Lord in his real presence in the Tabernacle or sit in silence before the welcoming presence of the Virgin Mary to meditate on her life of dedication and gratitude. For this, we put at your disposal some prayers that may be useful. Also, throughout the text, there are various links to delve into the lives of the Saints that make up the altarpieces.
Prayer for peace
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has looked with favour on His humble servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed, the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen, Alleluia.
Visita la Concatedral a través de su historia, arte y espiritualidad.
Visitez la Co-cathédrale
à travers son histoire,
son art et sa spiritualité.
We have the doors open
The temple is God’s house and ours. Let’s collaborate to keep it worthy.
If you wish to collaborate in the conservation of the Co-Cathedral of Santa María de La Redonda in Logroño, you can make a donation.