It is located at the top of the port of O Cebreiro, in the village of the same name, in the parish of Santa María Do Cebreiro belonging to the Concello de Pedrafita Do Cebreiro. The Sanctuary of Santa María La Real Do Cebreiro is of pre-Romanesque style, since it dates from the IX century, it is believed that it was linked to a possible hospital assisted by Benedictine monks. One of the oldest writings referring to it is from the year 1072, for a donation by Alfonso VI to the French monks of the abbey of San Giraldo de Aurillac, this hospital and the temple with its monks. Throughout its history, the monastery has enjoyed countless royal privileges. In 1487, the Catholic Monarchs separated it from the French abbey and made it dependent on the Benedictine Congregation of Valladolid.
Since then, the Benedictine monks have been in charge of the monastery, including the hospital and hostelry, until they abandoned it after the disentailment of Mendizábal in 1853. The church of San Benedicto, as Santa María la Real is also known, was set on fire during the War of Independence, and so documentation and much of its history was lost. The current church was restored in 1962, and has an atrium in which there are birches, maples and serbales. Today the sanctuary is guarded by the Franciscan Fathers. This sanctuary is one of the oldest monuments on the Way of Saint James, although it has been restored, as it has suffered several fires, curiously the pink tone of its interior is said to be due to them.
The sanctuary building, with very thick walls made of slate masonry, consists of three naves whose apses are covered with barrel vaults, a bell tower, which is a typical construction of the area and it is said that on foggy days the monks rang their bells to guide the pilgrims. The current façade is not the original of the sanctuary.
In its interior, flooded with sobriety and peace, a crucified Jesus stands out in its High Altar, which is a replica of the original. In the apse on the right, the Chapel of the Miracle, the chalice and the paten where the miracle took place are venerated, both true medieval Romanesque jewels; in addition to the reliquary, some small glass ampoules that the Catholic Monarchs in their visit to the Sanctuary of Santa María do Cebreiro gave to keep the flesh and blood of Christ, the work of the famous miracle. To the right are the sepulchres of the protagonists of the Santo Milagro, next to an image of the Virgen de los Remedios, the Virgen Do Cebreiro Santa María la Real. In the chapel on the left of the High Altar is the chapel of San Benito, dedicated to the founding monks of the church and at the foot of its altar is the sepulchre of the former parish priest of the church and great promoter of the French Way and of these lands Don Elías Valiña Sampedro.
Entering the church, on the left, in a separate room, is the baptistery, showing a precious baptismal font, made of a single piece in the twelfth century and where curiously, baptisms were done by immersion of the baptized. Also in this room you can admire a Christ of San Damiano, which is a copy of an icon of the twelfth century. According to tradition, this image asked Saint Francis of Assisi to restore its Church, which was threatened with ruin. Moreover, as if to assimilate such a magical visit, the church and its surroundings are surrounded by a landscape that invites you to take pleasant walks.
Tradition has it that Giraldo de Aurillac, medieval knight and later saint, built with his own hands, a refuge for pilgrims and a primitive church in this place O Cebreiro.
It receives the name of Santa María La Real Do Cebreiro because it has been declared a royal protection sanctuary. The image of the Virgin, which, according to legend, has had her head bowed since she did so in order to see and adore the miracle, is anchored to the pedestal as it has suffered several attempts at theft. Another curious thing is that the Holy Miracle reached such fame that it crossed borders and even inspired famous musicians such as Wagner who relied on it to compose his opera Parsifal.
According to the legend of the Holy Grail or the Holy Miracle, the priest of O Cebreiro was a clergyman who had many doubts about the fact that at Mass, at the moment of the consecration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine became the flesh and blood of Christ. One day while celebrating the Consecration in the presence of only one villager, who very devotedly and in spite of the inclemency of the weather, had arrived at the church from a neighboring village, made fun of him, because he did not understand so much effort nor so much faith to go before a non-existent miracle, at that very moment the Holy Host became flesh and wine became blood and it is said that the Virgin bowed before the miracle, then, according to the legend, the priest fell fulminated.
The LU-633 road connects O Cebreiro with the nearby Pedrafita do Cebreiro in the middle of highway A-6, concretely we will find the deviation towards the locality of O Cebreiro following the layout of the old N-VI to its step by Pedrafita do Cebreiro. This same road LU-633, but for its other slope, follows the course of the Way of Saint James joining O Cebreiro with Triacastela, Samos or Sarria among other localities. There are several bus service lines that connect Pedrafita do Cebreiro with Lugo and Ponferrada every day of the week at different times. From Pedrafita do Cebreiro to O Cebreiro, the distance is covered by taxi services.
Following the route of the road we find the detour that will lead us to the parking areas enabled around the town, from where after leaving our vehicle and we only have to follow some of the accesses that go into the center of the town where the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Do Cebreiro.
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Un lugar especial en el camino, para conocerlo.
8:05 h.28 km.