The 128th Chapter of the Province of Saint Nicholas visits San Millán
Last Sunday, June 26th, about twenty Augustinian Recollect religious —including participants in the 128th Provincial Chapter and members of the local community of Marcilla— traveled to La Rioja for a day of fraternity, culture and encounter, admirably welcomed by the community of the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla.
The first stop was 120 kilometers from the convent of Marcilla (Navarra), where the 128th Chapter of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine has been held since June 20th. This is Santo Domingo de La Calzada, the gateway to the mountainous area and deep valleys where San Millán de la Cogolla is located.
In La Calzada, the chapter members and their companions admired the Cathedral, a model of proto-Gothic architecture, a pilgrimage temple with three naves —the central one double in width and higher in height— intersected by a transept and with an ambulatory that originally had three apsidal chapels.
At the beginning of the 12th century it was enlarged as a church-fortress. The main altarpiece is a jewel of Renaissance sculpture, the work of Damián Forment. The cathedral has a Romanesque chancel with reliefs and capitals from the 12th century, including a rigorous relief of David as the singing king. Inside, the henhouse where a rooster and a hen live in memory of the miracle of the hanged pilgrim stands out.
Wearing the visitor's identification bracelet, everyone waited in the cloister for the guide, who offered a special and enlarged version upon learning that he was accompanying a group of Augustinian Recollect friars. They learned a lot in the almost two hours of guided tour.
After this visit, they returned by bus to cover the 20 kilometers that separated them from the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla, a focus of spirituality and culture for its famous codices with the first written testimony of the Spanish language. There the local Recollect community received them with their prior, Fray Pedro Merino, at the forefront.
This community wanted to be attentive, happy and generous and they offered the capitulants appetizers, paella, turkey legs and a good wine from La Rioja denomination of origin. Everyone joined in a fraternal conversation of anecdotes told with the affection of the brothers.
After eating, the expedition went up to the monastery of Suso. For half an hour the visitors heard about the biography of Saint Millán, the Mozarabic architecture, the penitential caves where they spent Lent and the saint's tomb in which, however, his body is not.
Back at the Yuso monastery, the Augustinian Recollect Jesus Lerena was waiting in the atrium of the church to personally guide his Recollect brothers through the convent, the church, the library and other corners not open to public visits. One of the capitular religious, Fray José García Corcuera, delighted everyone in the church with a small concert with the 17th century organ. The tour ended in the chapel where, this time, the remains of the saint are in a chest decorated with carved ivory where the main episodes of his biography are represented.
After thanking the local community for their welcome and spending the day in rest and fraternity, they returned to the headquarters of the 128th Provincial Chapter where this week work continues on the definition of the new Project of Life and Mission of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine of the Order of Augustinian Recollects.