Art and Mystery on the Saint-Jacque’s Way: Palencia, the church of Santiago de Cezura
Another church that, even without a reliable testimony that proves it, suggests the presence, in times, of the Order of the Temple: the church of Santiago, in Cezura. Much have changed the times since the time of that possible presence -which would have to date, in all probability, in the 12th and 13th centuries- and a lot, also, the styles that, as a reform, have been progressively settling in the foundations from this peculiar temple, located at the very foot of the road.
In fact, there is no trace of the original cover; and there is, unfortunately, in its place, a cover or circumstance, plateresque style, which does not provide any information and, on the other hand, considerably detracts from the rest of the set.
Of Cezura, it is interesting to know that it is a small town from Palencia that, for more references, is located very close to-or rather, at a short distance-the rock chapel of Santa María de Valverde; so that, due to its border situation with Cantabria, it could well be the case that in its origins it had been founded and repopulated by pioneers from beyond the Picos de Europa, during some of those dark episodes of black raids and obstinate skirmishes astures, that they seem to be the most noteworthy characteristic of that early medieval period between the ninth and eleventh centuries.
Interesting, however, is the interior, where samples of pictorial decoration can still be located -we have to think that original- that once covered the apse area. Painting, on the other hand, that represents rhomboidal geometric shapes, of white, red and black colors, that could belong to a late Romanesque period or, perhaps, to a later Gothic period.
The altar features a sculpture of a certain size, which represents the apostle Santiago in his well-known facet of matamoros, in clear reference to the fictional battle of Clavijo, antecedent, in its form and extension, to those other modern war stories, such as the famous angels Mons, whose providential appearance on the battlefields in 1915, saved the British army from a complete disaster in front of what could be considered the Moorish hordes of the time: the German army.
Although they can not be considered as irrefutable evidence, they deserve, at least, a sympathetic suspicion, at least one comment. I refer to the pate or kicked crosses that, in a number of four, are perfectly chiselled in different parts of the structure: two in the ashlars near the apse; one inside the temple and the fourth, inaccessible, in the area of the bell tower, according to the person in charge of the site.
Within the thematic variety developed in the motifs that make up the apsidial corbels, stand out - apart from the typical references to birds and more or less fantastic animals - the knots or interlaced of Celtic origin.
Without getting the fabulous effect that the stonemasons of other schools, the stonemason who worked them, in spite of everything, and although in a rather rough way, put some will at the time of chiseling the folds of the tunics of several individuals.
This factor of qualities, transferred to the motifs that decorate the interior capitals, leads me to suppose, in my opinion, the existence of at least two well-differentiated stonework guilds.
Contrast, comparatively speaking, the detailed chiseling with which the hand of this other interior mason, worked to the last detail, including the heads, to simulate the meshes of the numerous figures of warriors that make up the main leit-motif of the mentioned capitals.
Curious, in its form and meaning, of these interior capitals stands out -perhaps as a personalized interpretation of the artist- that one in particular, which shows a central character, magnified on his throne, whose hands hold the bridles of the horses of individual warriors, that could well represent, allegorically speaking, a subject that is absolutely unknown in the region: the legend of Alexander the Great and the taps.
The taps, mythological animals adopted in the Romanesque bestiary and which, in this case, would come to remember an episode of the fabulous legend of Alexander, who through the medium of these winged animals, would see from heaven the extension of all his conquests.
In short, whether or not it belonged to the Temple, of which there is no doubt, it is that we are in front of a temple whose visit will not disappoint; above all, if the visitor places the view beyond the set, to stop it in the multitude of details that it has and that, in the end, will report topics of interest with which to conjecture.
NOTICE: Originally published in my blog LA ESPAÑA DE LOS TEMPLARIOS. Both the text and the photographs that accompany it are my exclusive intellectual property. The original entry, where you can check the authorship of juancar347, can be found at the following address: https://juancarlosmenendez.blogspot.com/2010/09/cezura-palencia-iglesia-de-santiago.html
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Original content by @juancar347
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