(Madrid) On Christmas Day, the 25 December 2013 the Sanctuary of the Marian Shrine Virxe da Barca was burned down in the far west of Spain. With tears in their eyes believers are lamenting "winner!" for the restoration of their Marienkirche (Faro de Vigo) was carried out.
The Marian Shrine is located on the Costa da Morte, the Galician coast of death, which is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. During a storm a lightening bolt hit the church of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
For many, the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage church is yet another step to Finis terrae to achieve and the Atlantic Ocean. The pilgrimage church dates back to the 11th century. Marian devotion there is of still an older date, which is why Muxia is considered one of the "oldest and most important pilgrimage sites in Galicia".
High altar before the fire
Where the Mother of God appeared to the Apostle James
According to popular piety, the Mother of God appeared to the Apostle James here. The apostle had retired here at the extreme end of the known world to pray. He had fallen into deep sadness because of the people who did not want to put away their paganism. It was then he had discovered a boat in the distance in the sea which came closer and closer. Finally he managed to recognize the Virgin Mary, who brought him comfort and straightened him to continue his missionary work. Hence the name "Virgin of the Boat."
It was the Benedictine monks of the former, nearby Abbey of San Julián de Moraime and the pilgrims who built the Mother of God, the present church. The miraculous image of the Virgin is attributed to the 15th century. By 1700 the sanctuary was in the Baroque style.
Popular piety shows other needs
Now believers are complaining about the new "look" that has appeared in the church after the fire. They did so most recently, loudly at the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela, Maroño Victor. The repair cost around 740,000 euros. Mayor Felix Porto, himself a critic of the restoration, could hardly calm tempers.
The faithful do not like the new "sobriety". Popular piety shows other needs. The magnificent high altar, built in 1717 by Miguel de Romay in the style of the Spanish Baroque was completely destroyed by fire. Some side altars were partly saved. The miraculous image also remained intact, which is shown only on feast days in solemn procession, while there was a replica on the high altar.
The Blessed Mother was visited throughout the centuries by countless women who want children.
Church Crisis With Iconoclasm in Train?
Just a month before the fire rennovations had been completed. They had become necessary for structural reasons. In particularly stormy seas waves directly wash upon the sanctuary. Recently, this happened in 2005, a few days after the fire.The salt water had attacked the bearing masonry as it was then reported.
Opinions differ about "sobriety", not only since the Calvinist iconoclasm of the 16th century. Iconoclastic relapses took place in the East in the 8th / 9th Centuries, which are interpreted as a response to the ban on images in Islam. Popular piety also differs from people to people. What is too much for one already, may be too little for others. The Church respects these expressions of different people's souls.
A Calvinist / Baptist contempt of images has also won the upper hand in some diocese and monasteries of the German-speaking world. Required Restorations are a popular gate of entry to present the faithful with the surprising "sober" facts. The art and cultural critic, Francesco Colafemmina who examined the phenomenon seen in the modern emptying of Churches, sees a metaphor for inner emptiness and thus an expression of the current crisis of faith and Church.
"Our Lady does not deserve this"
The ancient glass windows remained
"Our Lady does not deserve this." The believers said this and much more to the Vicar General and the architects who had come with him to Muxia. Mayor Porto finally made himself the mouthpiece of the population: "What we want is a high altar, which is worthy for Our Mother of the Boat." Pastor Manuel Linero "suffers the most," under the new situation, the mayor said. He, too, was not included in the renovation project.
The Sanctuary of the Virgin Mother of God "belongs to the Church, but it also belongs to every house in Muxia and every single person here," said the mayor. Generation after generation of inhabitants of Muxia and thousands of pilgrims have supported the church through the centuries with their donations and foundations. This must be respected, says Felix Porto.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
image: Wikicommons / Diario galego / Luisde-Panoramio
Trans: Tancred email@example.com