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- The Church -

      The medieval building of Santa María la Real y Mayor de Sar began for the chapels of the head-board of the Church, inspired in the most Romanic style and that presents, in addition, a singular characteristic, the accused inclination of its subjection elements. The temple, position from east to west, has a basilical floor, with three naves without cruiser finished off by apses of polygonal plant. The Church has got a considerable spatial extent and it’s completely domed.

      The principal nave is separated from the laterals by pillars with columns that serves to support the pressure made by the central vault at the same time that hold in and up the arches that separate the three naves, lift up to the same height.

      By other way, we have got constancy about the existence of a high chorus inside, over the entrance door. In the same way, we know about the existence of a rosette in the higher part of the principal façade that, joined to the óculo (definition: opening or window of circular form) placed -and conserved at the present time- over the Major Chapel would form a harmonic system of illumination for the principal nave. The opening windows in the lateral walls completed the correct illumination of the temple -following the yardsticks of functionality as the search of a mystic and retired space for praying. The re-edification of the Church in 18th century supposed, pitifully, the definitive loss of the chorus and the demolition of façade rosette, substituted by the nowadays window.


- The imprint of Cathedral’s studio -

      The stylistic conception of the Church, saved the domed, both the architecture and the inside ornament, responds to the used models by the Cathedral’s studio (we shouldn’t forget that the begins of the building places in the second third of 12th century, in times of Gelmírez Archbishop).

      About the sculptural decoration, we should check in the first place in the capitals. The diversity of tendencies and styles could be due to the slowness works that would top in the first-fourth of 13th century, in times of Pedro Muñiz Archbishop. The decoration of head capitals -of a major decorative wealth that the naves- presents interesting vegetable motives, entwine and zoomorphic, as the case of north chapel, which shows capitals with lion’s figures. These are some examples of the influence of Platería’s studio, builder of the cruiser and the doorways of the Cathedral during the first decade of 12th century.

      This artistic subordination to the Cathedral factory evolves according to the construction advances. It’s notice that the naturalism imprint of Master Mateo studio and them, a progressive suppression of vegetable motives that let the way to a new style, more close to Gothic. Master Mateo’s style is easily detectable in the works of the studio in charge of finished Sar’s Church and the first constructive phase of the cloister.

- The tombs -

      Inside the artistic interest that, in matter sculpture, the Church discovered to us, also it corresponds a place emphasized to the ample series of tombs, sepulchers and graves that preserve carefully in its interior. All of them correspond with different characters, more or less relevant, but related with the history of the Priory and, obviously, with its original function as retirement house. The sepulchres, all of them with recumbent statue, present a bigger artistic attractive that the graves, more moderates and whose only decoration is the identificative inscription or a simple cross.

      The oldest sepulchre, detached to the south wall inside the Church, corresponds to Bernardo II, Archbishop of Santiago from 1224 to 1237, who after surrendered to his responsibility came to Sar, where he died in 1240. Upon his tomb is located the recumbent statue, carved in half relief and that constitutes one of the best sculptural from Compostela pieces of middle of the 13th century. It’s similarity with some of the ancient funeral sculptures of the Royal pantheon of Santiago’s Cathedral placed it inside the stylistic confines of Gothic begins.

      The north wall of Sar’s Church count on with two interesting sepulchers. Those corresponds to Gómez González do Canabal, Prior de Sainte Marie of Sar between 1485 and 1505, and his nephew Jácome Álvarez, successor of its uncle till 1536. The quality of the sculptural whole of that one is most high than González do Canabal’s one, of a less ornamental richness. So, the recumbent image of Jácome Álvarez, with an excellent finished and a big naturalism in the execution of its carve, is consider as one of the best funeral Galician images from the first half of 16th century.

      Aside from the valuable sculptural manifestations that we have reported to (inside ornamentation and funeral statues) it’s know about the existence of an interesting repertoire of sculptural paints, in the main vanished, that formed part of the primitive Collegiate heritage.

- The five ancient Altars of Sar -

      Sar’s Church counted with five altars, configuration that hold up during the 17th century, according to the documental description verify in 1611. The Major Chapel there were three altars, the Major Altar was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was showing an altar-piece of images painted on table -it’s know that one of them was corresponding to Saint Paul, for what it seems to be reasonable to think that it was accompanied by other one of Saint Peter. Aside from altar-piece, that Major Altar had got the sculpture of Blessed Virgin Mary in golden wood and a monstrance in wood, too. For the Altar table was charged -coming from the famous studio of Limonges (France)- a Romanic frontal of bronze, enamels and precious stones. All of that artistic pieces disappeared after the temples renovation in the 18th century.

      The Major Chapel disposed, as we said, two more Altars, the right’s one dedicated to Saint Augustine and the left’s one to Saint Blas, both two represented by sculptures of polychrome stone. This whole was completed with the altars placed in the lateral chapels. The left’s lateral Chapel showed a painted panel with the scene of Jesus Baptism by Saint John Baptist and the right’s lateral was presided by a crucifix.

      In other way, the only paints that preserves the Church are located in the Major Chapel, and all seems to indicate that its realization date from 16th century. That paints, that are very spoiled -that’s why is very difficult to identify it- constitute a good stylistic reference about the situation of pictorial art in the Compostela’s ambient of its time.

      In the center part of the Chapel, above the vault, its conserves a fragment of the Virgin of the Misericordia (1546), from we can only look at the inferior part of its tunic and overtunic. Nonetheless, that remnant -of a meticulous invoice- allows to imagine the original composition of the work where emphasized the big dimensions of the image, whose head could reach to the middle of the vault. In the right we can appreciate a masculine figure praying, behind appeared various personages. It’s very likely that exists a figurative composition similar, even symmetrical, in the left of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it doesn’t conserve no remnant of that part.

The pictorical labour continued in the arcades, located in the both sides of the central window of the apse. In the right side is located a figure of Saint Augustine and in the left Saint Blaise one’s, which its iconographic disposition coincide with the other three Altars of the Major Chapel, described before.

- The Baroque heritage in Sar -

      Those five Altars don’t be renovated - in spite of its bad state- till ends of the first third of the 18th century, due to the decadence period that lived the community of Sar, without economic means and with its installations at the edge of ruin. The collaboration and the help of other monastic institutions will allowed to the community entrust, in 1730, the new altar-piece of the Church to the sculptor and engraver Miguel de Romay.

      It was the époque of the splendour Baroque, which spectacular nature wasn’t outside to Collegiate of Sainte Marie of Sar. The big religious ceremonies of the moment would require elements in according with the magnificent and ostentation of the Baroque celebrations. Communion cups, procession crosses, censers, reliquaries or badges of mayordomía of the fraternities are some of the magnificent pieces made by some of the more recognized silver-smiths of Compostela during the 17th and 18th century, as José Novoa or Francisco Turreira together with other creators of the schools of silversmiths of Toledo or Córdoba. In consonance with this sumptuousness and as a fitting complement for the sacred ritual of the époque are the liturgical ornaments as the copes, chasubles or the shoulders cloths, all of them made on refined silks embroidered with gold and silver threads.


- The inclination of Sar: singularity and attractive -

      The accused inclination of the inside pillars of the Church -vital elements for the correct subjection of the temples structure- is one of the characteristics more singulars of that Romanic building and it becomes, at the same time, in one of its principals attractions.

      In that sense, there were some theories about that phenomenon, which origin can’t be an only one cause. Everything seems to indicate that the coincidence of different factors connected or else some defects in the construction or else with the marshy nature of the land where is located the build, very near to Sar river, are some of the most reasonable motives for explain that question.

      In this way, for example, recovers credibility as one of the origins of the inclination the construction -unfarsighted- of the lateral naves of the Church in a height similar to the high nave. This diminished the contrarest function that these ones exercised for hold up the pression of the central vault which added up to the land unsolidity contributed to the loss of the temple’s equilibrium.