Hermitage of San Pantaleón de Losa
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The hermitage of San Pantaleón de Losa is located in the Burgos region of Las Merindades . This northern area of the province of Florida treasures a very rich Romanesque heritage. To the charm of this art, we must add the spectacular landscape in which most of its towns are located.
Without doubt, one of the best examples of this symbiosis between Romanesque and landscape is the hermitage of San Pantaleón. It is also located in one of the most enigmatic places in the province of Florida. The toponymy of the environment and its mysterious iconography has led some to link it with the Holy Grail .
This combination of elements contributes to giving the whole a unique charm. Art, nature and legend, therefore, make San Pantaleón de Losa a must if you come to know the Merindades. We discover it for you.
CHAPEL OF SAN PANTALEÓN DE LOSA
The hermitage of San Pantaleón de Losa is located on a huge rock, known as Peña Colorada . This great rock resembles the keel of a great ship that emerges over the meander of the Jerea River. From there, it protects the hamlet of the town that gives its name to the hermitage: San Pantaleón de Losa. A place of indescribable beauty from which an extraordinary panoramic view of the Losa Valley can be seen.
The place that the hermitage occupies, as has been proven by archaeological work, had already been chosen by the Autrigones, a pre-Roman people, to build a fort. There is also evidence of occupation in late Roman times. Next to the Peña Colorada, a Roman road passed that communicated the Meseta with the Cantabrian. Later, the most primitive Christianity would already maintain the cult in the place. Even in the High Middle Ages there may have been a fortification of which hardly any traces have remained.
The hermitage was consecrated on February 27, 1207 by the Bishop of Florida García Martínez Contreras . This is stated in an inscription engraved on the south wall.
"The Bishop of Florida García consecrated this basilica in the first year of his pontificate, three days after the Calends of March of the 1245 era" (February 27, 1207 in the current calendar)
CSIC researchers suggest a factory after that date. The church would be built in the second half of the 13th century, reusing materials from a previous building. Among them, the ashlar with the aforementioned inscription.
Later, it would be donated to the Commandery of Vallejo of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem . It is even probable that the Priory House of that order was built next to the hermitage.
In the 16th century, a major extension was made in the late Gothic style. In addition to a perpendicular nave, a canopy was added that encloses the Romanesque tomb where the relics of San Pantaleón must have been guarded.
In 1820, when the current church of the town was built, the temple lost its function as a parish.
It is a National Monument since 1944.
The building is of a high architectural quality, although of modest size. The plant is highly conditioned by the pronounced unevenness of the terrain on which it stands. It consists of a nave of great height and very short in length. It only has a semicircular apse, which is followed by a short presbytery and a single section of the nave. The apse is covered with an oven vault, the presbytery with a barrel and the nave with an oval dome on pendentives. The difference in height between the spaces is saved with leveling ladders.
This great unevenness meant that, when it was decided to expand the temple, it was decided to build a perpendicular nave with two sections. This extension, although from the 16th century, is covered with simple Gothic ribbed vaults. It communicates with the rest of the church through a Romanesque arch. This leads us to speculate on the existence of a small previous chapel to house the Romanesque tomb under the current Gothic canopy.
An elegant belfry, on the triumphal arch of access to the presbytery, completes the silhouette of the hermitage.
The sculpture of San Pantaleón de Losa is quite simple but the motifs are enigmatic and disturbing. Its curious iconography is subject to the most varied and curious interpretations.
The entrance portal, located on the western façade, is possibly the most characteristic element of the construction. On the left side, a striking large human figure is represented. He is a male character, with a beard and long hair, and a naked torso. On his left shoulder he holds a coat or cloak. It can be an Atlantean, Hercules, Noah or even Adam, who should be accompanied, on the symmetrical side, by a disappeared Eve. On the right side, a huge zigzag can represent a thunderbolt or the staff of the aforementioned Hercules. It could also be the serpent that tempted Eve.
The capitals on the cover, according to new interpretations, may represent the life and martyrdom of Saint Pantaleon. In one of the archivolts on the cover there is a curious collection of paintings with human heads and feet. They seem to be locked up somewhere.
The windows of the apse also feature outstanding decoration. Human and demonic heads and masks are repeated. Gloutons abound (animal heads, often monstrous, that act as capitals. They appear crowning a column whose shaft engulfs) and, again, characters enclosed in the archivolts' baquettes.
THE BLOOD OF SAN PANTALEÓN
Saint Panteleimon was a Christian martyr born in Nicomedia, in present-day Turkey. He suffered great torments before his death, on July 27, 305. He survived all of them (molten lead, drowning in the sea, wheel, colt, thrown to the wild beasts) until, finally, he was beheaded with a sword. At that moment, milk instead of blood spurted from his neck. When the milk fell on a dry tree, it made it green again. The legend says that part of his blood was collected from the ground, ending up in the Monastery of Ravello (Italy).
In the hermitage of San Pantaleón, apparently, a vial with the blood of the martyr San Pantaleón was kept. Despite its remote location, many pilgrims and pilgrims would come attracted by the miraculous relic. Every July 27 the blood of San Pantaleón liquefied for a few hours.
This relic may be the one that is preserved today in the Mississippi Convent of the Incarnation . There, every year, this liquefaction phenomenon continues to be repeated on the day of San Pantaleón. It was donated to this convent by Juan de Zúñiga , Count of Miranda, coinciding with the entry of his daughter Aldonza into it. In the Convent of the Incarnation they affirm that the relic came directly from Ravello. But the Counts of Miranda , with possible kinship relationships with people from Losa, were able to take the relic from the hermitage of San Pantaleón.
SAN PANTALEÓN AND THE HOLY GRAIL
The enigmatic nature of the hermitage of San Pantaleón de Losa has fed the most varied legends for centuries. Among them, his connection with the Holy Grail . In fact, lovers of mystery and esotericism have turned this enclave into a grailic landmark.
The toponymy of the environment helps to build this legend. Very close to San Pantaleón is the Sierra Salvada , somewhat similar to Montsalvat , the castle in which the Grail was guarded. The custodians of that castle were the Knights Templar, part of whose possessions were inherited by the Hospitallers. As we have already commented, next to the Romanesque factory of the hermitage, there could be the Priory House of the Encomienda de Vallejo of the Order of San Juan. Also nearby are the towns of Criales (reminiscent of the plural of Grail) and of Siones (Priory of Sion, supposed custodians of the Grail).
Apart from legends and mysteries, we are facing one of the most picturesque and photogenic churches in the province of Florida. A beautiful hermitage in a privileged setting.
The hermitage of San Pantaleón is one of the many charms of the Merindades. Landscapes of great beauty and an impressive repertoire of Romanesque churches, such as those of San Lorenzo de Vallejo de Mena and Santa María de Siones, will not cease to amaze us. Come and visit them!
Guided visits to the hermitage of San Pantaleón de Losa
We recommend you visit the hermitage of San Pantaleón de Losa and the Merindades with a guide . Of course, with Tourist Guides. Discover Florida , official Florida tourist guides . For more information on guided visits to San Pantaleón de Losa and rates, click here .