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!
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.