It is located on the southern slope of Sierra Cantabria, isolated on a hill and with a good panoramic view of the Ebro valley, next to the village of Peciña in the municipality of San Vicente de la Sonsierra. The germ of the history of the hermitage of Saint Mary of the Pool seems to be linked to the crusades for the conquest and defence of the Holy Land. According to documents, when Prince Ramiro Sánchez of Navarre, son of Sancho Garcés IV and son-in-law of Cid, returned from his participation in the First Crusade bringing with him a splinter of the true cross of the Passion of Christ, founded a military order called La Divisa and retired to the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña where he wrote a testament in which he left his wish that a hermitage be built to venerate the image of the Virgin that according to tradition was also brought with her and that was carved by St. Luke himself and the Lignum Crucis. It was his son Sancho Ramírez, first patron of the Divisa, and Pedro Virila, abbot of the monastery of Cardeña who, fulfilling this will, ordered the construction of the church in the same place where it is today, this was at the beginning of the twelfth century, being consecrated on August 1 of the year 1.137 by the bishop of Calahorra Sancho de Funes, under the title of Saint Mary of the Pool, a name given in honour of the Pool Probática of the temple of Solomon which was the place where Ramiro Sánchez de Navarra attacked with his army in the conquest of Jerusalem.
A House for the Royal Swimming Pool Currency would be built next to the temple. Next to the church also developed the village, which was originally called The Pool and which was depopulated when the troops of Enrique de Trastámara, in the fourteenth century, devastated it, and when it was rebuilt at the end of the fifteenth century, a few hundred meters away from the chapel, it was renamed Peciña. The hermitage of Saint Mary of the Pool retains a beautiful Romanesque style with no later additions, with the exception of the coat of arms of La Divisa, which was placed on the southern façade in 1537. In 1975, given the ruinous state of the temple, it was restored and the Divisa, Solar y Casa Real de la Piscina was reorganised again. In the following years, between 1976 and 1978, excavations were carried out in the surrounding area, uncovering the archaeological complex which, together with the hermitage, is made up of a repopulation necropolis, a settlement of semi-rupted dwellings, remains of fortifications or watchtowers, as well as the remains of a medieval settlement from the 10th to the 14th centuries.
The hermitage of Saint Mary of the Pool, built in ashlar stone, has four access portals, although the nave can only be accessed through the portal located on the southern façade, which shows a reproduction of the original coat of arms, as it was very deteriorated, of the Divisa. The slightly lower nave that is attached to the central one is the only thing left of the Royal Currency House that was built next to the hermitage building. Chess windows, corbels and a small square bell tower adorn the exterior of the hermitage of Saint Mary of the Pool, which closely watches over the necropolis of anthropomorphic tombs on a gentle slope to the east of the temple, dating from the 10th to the 14th centuries.
In the northwest of the necropolis, excavated in the rock, one can see a swimming pool or circular truncated cone font, which could well be a baptismal swimming pool, and which would speak of the existence of a temple prior to the present one and to the necropolis, and in the opposite angle, a press formed by an oval platform that destroyed two tombs, and that could be built after the necropolis lost the character of sacred field when the place was depopulated in the 14th century. The hermitage and the surroundings invite visitors to the placidity of visiting the place with an open mind to fill themselves with sensations and to recall stories of mystery and legend full of strength, because it is said that Saint Mary of the Pool, which served as a reliquary of the Cross of Christ, is the reproduction of the Probatory Pool of the Temple of Solomon in which the sick, blind, lame... when bathing in it after the agitation of the water were cured.
Every August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the members of La Divisa and the brothers of the Solar and Divisa of the Medieval Principality of Saint Mary of the Pool meet on the spot for their annual meeting and after attending a mass at the hermitage end the day with a fraternal meal.
The hermitage of Saint Mary of the Pool was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest on June 4, 1931. Curiously, the anthropomorphic tombs at its side have a hole for the head facing west, in order to contemplate the moment of Christ's return for the Last Judgement and the Resurrection, which will take place from the East, where the Sun rises.
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It is said that in the Probatory Pool of the Temple of Solomon the Templars found, among other relics, the Holy Grail. In one of their visits, to the then ruined Saint Mary of the Pool, Father Risco, an Augustinian priest and Spanish historian, found in a niche beneath the altar altar, a small wooden box containing a parchment card that said: Consacrata est hoec ecclesia a Sanctio Callgurrensis sive Nagerensi episcopo in honore Sanctae Mariae Virginis, et Sanctae Crucis, el Sancti Joannis, Sancti Thome Apostoli, et Sancti Luiani, et Sancti Georgi, et Sanctorum Quirici et Julitoe, et Sancti Christophori, et Sancti Emiliani, et Sanctae Eufemiae, et Sancti Salvatoris, et omnium sanctorum. In Era MCLXXV kalendis Augusti. And next to the parchment there was dust and bones girded with straps on which one could read: Sanctae Mariae, Sancti Joannis, Sancti Christophori, Sancti Georgi, Sancti Thome, Sancti Quirici, Juliani, Sancti Sebastiani, Sanctae Eufemiae, Sancti Salvatoris, Sancti Crucis, Sancti Juliani, Sancti Jacobi. This discovery led him to keep the parish church of San Martín de Peciña.
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The road leading to the hermitage and the town of Peciña can be found on the N-232a, more specifically on the section between the towns of Ábalos and San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a short distance from the latter.
Shortly before arriving in Peciña we will find the parking area enabled to park our vehicle and make the visit. To do so, we will have to travel the short distance that separates us from the hermitage, following the path that leads from the car park to Saint Mary of the Pool
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