Saint Mary of Parral Monastery

Segovia, Spain

Monastery of Saint Mary of Parral is a Roman Catholic monastery of the enclosed monks of the Order of Saint Jerome just outside the walls of Segovia. It was founded by King Henry IV of Castile, who acquired the lands before he became king in 1454. Despite a generally irreligious life, Henry IV maintained connections with the Hieronymites and was buried in the sister-house of Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe.

In the 16th century a mint was built near the monastery using the Eresma River to power the machinery. The monastery was closed as part of the secularisation program of 1835. Following a Papal Decree of 1925, the Hieronymite Order was re-established here in the following years and was finally granted its Rule in 1969.

There are some works of art in the monastery, for example a 16th-century retable in Renaissance style. However, it is perhaps better known for its association with works that have been removed. Following the closure of the monastery in the 1830s, some of its works of art were moved to Madrid where they were stored in a monastery at Atocha. In the 1870s they were moved again to the Royal Gallery of El Prado in Madrid, where they were stored with little further research until some greater investigation took place between 2000 and 2003.

One painting in particular, The Fountain of Grace (The Triumph of the Church over the Synagogue), has attracted interest because of its presumed connection to the artist Jan van Eyck. Listed in the Convent's Libero de Bercero (Vellum Book) as a gift of the King in 1454, it uses the same symbolic language and constructional forms as part of The Mystic Lamb polytych in St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium.

Theories regarding its attribution have included the idea that it was rushed copy of a lost original, originally commissioned by Pope Eugene IV for a chapel in Brussels, possibly undertaken by Jan van Eyck during a diplomatic mission he undertook to the Iberian Peninsulain the 1430s.

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Calle Parral 2, Segovia, Spain
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Founded: 1454
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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