The Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz is on the World Heritage route of Santiago de Compostela in Spain at the foot of the Pyrenees.
The parish church is known as the Church of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia), but collectively the buildings are listed as The Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz (La Abadia de Eskirotz y Ilarratz). The Way of St. James or Camino de Santiago passes directly alongside the church.
The building is one of some 1800 listed in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also registered as a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest.
In 2012 we began negotiations with the Archdiocese of Pamplona to purchase the buildings and land with a view of saving and later restoring the badly neglected buildings. In late 2014, our dream of owning the church became a reality.
Our vision is to crowd-source the skills, the means and the resources needed to restore this neglected 12th century* church. The church is rumoured to be a Templar church and symbols contained in and around the building seem to confirm this. Our research is ongoing but given that few records exist piecing the building's story together is a challenge.
Our vision for the church is that it will become a museum to itself.
The building has lived through so much - the invasion of the Moors, The Spanish Inquisition, Napoleon's crossing of the Pyrenees, two world wars, and the Spanish Civil War to name but a few…
If you have any spare time, a particular skill set, knowledge specialisation, or any financial / material resources with which to help, we would love to hear from you. So many historical buildings on the Camino have been allowed to go to ruin - our hope is that by saving this one we'll be able to create a ‘home from home’ for fellow pilgrims travelling on the Camino de Santiago.
* It's interesting to note that there is debate as to the building's age. Some architectural historians date the building's pediments as 12th century yet in some documentation the church's age is listed as 16th century. We are still trying to establish the ancestry of the building's but from what we've been told by various specialists, it appears the old 12th century fort was converted to the present day church in the mid 13th century. We'll update this information once we've learnt more.
DIRECTIONS TO THE ABBEY:
We're situated between Zubiri and Larrasoaña. After you leave Zubiri you'll pass through the Magna Mining complex and up to the hamlet of Ilarratz - The Abbey is a hundred or so meters further down the road from Ilarratz on the right hand side of the road.
About St. Lucy:
Lucia of Syracuse (283–304), also known as Saint Lucy, or Saint Lucia (Italian Santa Lucia), was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletian Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of eight women, who along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day, known as Saint Lucy's Day, is celebrated in the West on 13 December. St. Lucia of Syracuse was honored in the Middle Ages and remained a well-known saint in early modern England.
The church was involved in two world wars? This is news to all Spaniards!
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.