SAN ROMÁN DE MOROSO
Thanks: To our contributor Javier Pelaz Beci, member of 4AsE, who has provided a great part of the information and photographs used for this file.
- Declared Heritage of Cultural Interest in 1931.
- At the beginning of the 20th century it still preserved its columns and capitals of the door, but during the last third of the century it was in ruins.
- It has been excavated and restored as of 1980.
The chevet faces east and a door in the horseshoe arch on the northern wall gives way to the temple's inside. This orientation is unusual, probably determined by the uneven morphology of the soil. The apse is quadrangular and the gable finishes off a bell gable of later construction. The eaves stands up with foiled modillions decorated with swastikas, sun disks and four and six petal flowers. The origin of the vegetal motifs as well as the geometrical ones were profane representations though christianized later by the Visigoths and finally adopted by the Mozarabics.
The inside is formed by a single rectangular and remarkably high nave with wooden frame. The natural illumination is scarce as it only comes from two loopholes opened on the southern wall. A triumphal horseshoe arch with stepped cymatium gives way to a meager almost quadrangular apse covered with a barrel vault. Lampérez believes that the apse had a horseshoe shaped plan. A keyhole window framed in cross pattée opens on the front wall.
The triumphal arch has been rebuilt so it lacks inner door and iconostasis, that in Mozarabic worship separated the presbitery from the nave with curtains so that the faithful would not see the officiant at the moment of consacration. The cymatia are the original ones, however, both the capitals as well as the columns that supported them have disappeared. A High Medieval necropolis and a capital, that could have been the triumphal arch, were found in the excavations that had been practised in 1980.
Although it is considered a Mozarabic church of the 10th century and has been related with St. María de Lebeña, also located in Cantabria but much to the west of Bostronizo, the truth is that there are stylistic differences between them, excepting the similarities of the modillions that support the roof; formed by nine compartments separated by columns and capitals that support horseshoe arches in a complex design that recalls the Visigothic cruciform churches and St. María de Wamba, St. Román de Moroso is formed by a single nave and a rectangular apse. The nave is wooden covered. However, the quality of its construction can be compared with that of the best Visigothic and Mozarabic buildings.
On the other hand, while the decoration of Lebeña connects with the whole sculpture of the Mozarabic Asturian-Leonese school, where we find such meaningful monuments like St. Miguel de Escalada or Santiago de Peñalba, the scanty decoration preserved in this hermitage is a very different one, excepting the modillions. Another subject to bear in mind when we analyse this church is that it has the door on the northern side, what we only find in another very special Mozarabic construction - St. Baudelio de Berlanga- wheras in all the rest the door is located on the southern side. It is not even possible to know the original structure of its two horseshoe arches, that have been restored with a large extension, like in Mozarabic Leonese art, but they could have been more open.
Other interesting informationAccess: Starting in Torrelavega, take the Autovía de la Meseta and leave it in the exit to Arenas de Iguña; follow to Raicedo, take the detour to Bostronizo and follow the concentration road until the sign that indicates the location of this Mozarabic church. GPS coordinates: 43°13'10,488"N 4°3'19.0008"O.
Telephone: Ayuntamiento de Arenas de Iguña: 942 82 60 19.
Visiting hours: Open in summer. The rest of the year, contact the Ayuntamiento de Arenas de Iguña.
Historia de Cantabria. Prehistoria. Edades Antigua y Medi: García Guinea, M. A. Santander 1985, pp 324-325
L'Art Préroman Hispanique - L'Art Mozarabe: Jacques Fontaine(ZODIAQUE)