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Ricardo Fernández Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.

Heritage on the report: the old parish of Elizondo

Fri, 20 Sep 2019 13:21:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Throughout the twentieth century some of the most important buildings disappeared due to various circumstances such as their dilapidated state, loss of use and function, speculation on land for development and lack of space. Fortunately, some photographs with history give us testimony of some stories with photography around those lost factories. Through some images of the old parish of Elizondo, we will recreate its factory, its slender tower that, like others, was well enhanced in its urban area, some patrons who shone for their protection of the temple in which they had been baptized, as well as some outstanding pieces of movable art that have survived to the present day.

The new temple was built with plans of the architect Lino place of 1916, partly because of the damage of the great floods of 1913, but according to the report of his parish priest, Don Mauricio Berecochea, because "it wasalreadyinsufficient for having increased a lot the issue of inhabitants of the town". With a budget of 755,655 pesetas and the contributions of numerous neighbors, among them 120,000 pesetas from Don Braulio Iriarte, 200,000 from Doña Martina Aguirre or 100.100,000 from an anonymous parishioner, the building was erected between 1917 and 1922, being consecrated with all solemnity, in 1925, by the nuncio Federico Tedeschini together with the bishop of Pamplona and the resigned bishop of Oviedo, in a long ceremony lasting five hours.

The old building and its tower

Like other churches in the Baztán valley, the Elizondo church was built in the 16th century, at a time when some of the stonemasons living there were at the forefront of new architectural solutions, with the assimilation of theory and treatises. One of them, perhaps the most important B, was Juan de Garaicoechea y Oiz, neighbor of Elizondo and studied by Mª J. Tarifa, who has pointed out how he crossed the borders of his valley and left in the main chapel of the parish of Lerín (1591) a work A within the Navarrese panorama of the time, where the concha avenerada that turns over its main chapel, similar to the one he would carry out a few years later in Garzain, stands out.

The documentation of Elizondo informs us that its parish church, located at the present-day place, was built by a family of local stonemasons. In 1587, Juan Martínez de Leizagoyen contracted the continuation of the work that his father Juan de Leizagoyen had already begun. It was a simple construction, with a nave and Wayside Cross with its choir at the foot, to which a large chapel was later added on the gospel side. On the outside, the beautiful and slender tower of masonry and classical style, which was paid for by an anonymous donor and built by José Poudez, an architect from the French town of Pau, who was very active in northern Navarre for three decades, stands out, between 1775 and the beginning of the 19th century, in works as important as the new hospital and the priory house of the collegiate church of Roncesvalles, the parish church of Zugarramurdi, the monastery of Urdax or the Estebecorena or Istecorena house in Elizondo.

The contracts for the construction of the tower, signed in 1780, are very rich for everything related to prices and the quarries for the extraction of the stone, its carving and transportation, with agreements with different stonemasons and carters, who were to bring the ashlars to the site. The cost of the work amounted to 2,600 pesos at 8 reales and 36 maravedís per real. Although the deadline of execution was set for the end of 1781, the cancellation of the obligation by the parties was not signed before the notary until February 1784.

An unusual case: two major altarpieces at deadline for twelve years

The change of mentality and, consequently, of the development of the arts experienced in the second half of the 18th century, with the imposition of models linked to academicism, can be seen in some of the works of that time and particularly in the major altarpieces of Elizondo, where the Rococo style was replaced by another of marked classicist lines in a dozen years.

The first of these was commissioned in 1762, to Silvestre Soria, the great master of the rococo period in Navarre, trained in the workshop of the royal or new palace of Madrid with Juan Domingo Olivieri. The promoter of the work was, in this case, a man from Baztan established in the court of Madrid as treasurer of the Infante Don Luis Antonio Jaime, Don Ambrosio Agustín de Garro, knight of the Order of Santiago. Before signing the notarial deed of commitment, the promoter obtained the corresponding permission of the place, council and its vicar, and a design and conditioned to the aforementioned Silvestre de Soria was commissioned. Precisely with his own traces, he undertook to make the altarpiece, with small modifications that were carefully noted in the commitment. Among them were to make the first body a little smaller, download of ornament, to eliminate the war trophies and to suppress the decoration of the tabernacle to give the impression of greater grandeur. Soria's obligation would be to order the sculpture and gild and marbleize the whole altarpiece, "foreseeing that it has to have a little more gold than the one in the altarpieces of the church of Azpilcueta". Pine wood was once again chosen as the material for the whole set, the price was agreed at 2,360 pesos of 128 quarters, to be paid as the work progressed, and the deadline was set for St. John's Day, 1763.

A few years later, when barely a dozen years had passed and for reasons that can only be aesthetic and fashionable, between 1775 and 1777, a new main altarpiece was made to replace the one made between 1762 and 1763, again under the patronage of the same family. The closest reason must have been the realization of the main altarpiece of Irurita designed with totally neoclassical lines by José Hermosilla in 1770, under the watchful eye of Don José Ignacio Goyeneche and the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Of that rococo altarpiece only a few pieces were saved and are currently located inside the Shrine of Our Lady of Fair Love of San Pedro.

The new altarpiece of Elizondo, preserved until 1917 when it was dismantled when the old parish was demolished, was due to a testamentary disposition of Ambrosio Agustín de Garro, which would be fulfilled by his son and testamentary Don Nicolás Ambrosio de Garro. Both were treasurers of the infante Don Luis Antonio. The will of the aforementioned Ambrosio Agustín included the sum of 52,000 reales de vellón for the "renovation of the main altarpiece of Elizondo". With that amount José Poudez, the aforementioned French architect, was position of the piece, for which he was paid different amounts between 1775 and 1777. The polychromy of the set was subcontracted by Poudez with the Pamplona gilder Juan Francisco Santesteban in June 1776, when it was already finished, stating that the gold should be the best from Pamplona or Paris. The sculptures that figured in the altarpiece are, in addition to the titular Santiago on horseback with the Moors at the bottom, those of the saints Ambrosio, Agustín, Nicolás and Fermín, names of the promoters of the work. The altarpiece disappeared a century ago when the new parish of Elizondo was built (1916-1925). The aforementioned postcard shows its classicist lines, in harmony with what was done in Irurita.

Other pieces of movable heritage of the old temple

In addition to the goldsmith and embroidery works preserved and catalogued, some pieces have been preserved from the old parish. Among them, the images of the Virgin of the Rosary and the Heart of Jesus. The first is a work B of academic sculpture, imported from Madrid and paid for by one of the residents of Baztan, possibly by Don Francisco de Arizcun, Marquis of Iturbieta and brother of Don Miguel, the first Marquis of that degree scroll, at whose expense the altarpiece of San Miguel was made.

article As for the Heart of Jesus, the work of sculptor Antonio Alsina (1863-1948) and a gift from Mrs. Martina Aguirre, widow of Ripalda, it was highly praised in an article in La Avalancha in 1901, lamenting the lack of space in the church for a chapel, which was mitigated by the construction of a sumptuous urn built by the Elizondo cabinetmaker Trinidad Martínez, according to design by architect L. place.

The bust of the Dolorosa, which probably arrived at Elizondo in 1753, has also been preserved, quite deteriorated, together with another of Christ, since in that year both niches were ordered to be made by virtue of a mandate from the Episcopal visit . In this regard, we must remember that two sculptures with the same iconography had been placed shortly before in the main altarpiece of Arizcun.

The parish inventories give us an account of various donors of different pieces. Thus, an altar set with its chalice and cruets, a gift from Field Marshal Pedro Fermín de Mendinueta, the monstrance of the Marquis of Iturbieta, ornaments by the Marquis of Las Hormazas, Juan Martín de Larralde, silver lamps, etc. are mentioned.

A talking postcard of your interior on Animas day

The snapshot captured in a postcard commercialized by the local establishment of G. Marín de Elizondo at the beginning of the 20th century, sample the aspect that presented the interior of the temple in the day of the Ánimas or its novenario, with everything ready to sing the response with absolution to the catafalque, piece that we see in front of the altar, next to the comulgatory. But it is the entire pavement of the nave of the church, from the sotacoro, which is striking for being covered by the family tombs with offerings of lights and bread. As it is known, in the traditional society, the burial place was considered as an extension of the native house. It was located in the church and was known by the names of fosa or fuesa. The aforementioned offerings were placed on the grave, covered with a cloth of the dead, usually black, on which were placed a support for the candles or the axes, or for the match twisted in the argizaiola, a basket and a kneeler.

The celebration of All Souls' Day was important because it was prescribed that from noon on November 1, the feast of All Saints, to average night of the following day, with certain prayers and the petition for the intentions of the Roman Pontiff, a special indulgence was gained, applicable to the souls in purgatory. The view of the Elizondo parish in the postcard we are commenting on is undoubtedly prepared for such celebrations.

Another photograph from 1899 with its chronicle

The magazine La Avalancha, in its issue corresponding to March 8, 1900, comments on a photograph taken by photographer Félix Mena in the fall of the previous year, 1899, on the occasion of the placement of a coat of arms with the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the town hall. The photograph is very interesting not only for its chronology and for showing part of the old urban center of the town, but also for presenting the town hall, erected from 1696 by the stonemason Juan de Arozarena, with the numerous and disappeared cheers hung on its façade, at different times, coinciding with the promotion or appointment to important positions of several sons of the Valley. At the same time that they were placed in the native house - as they can still be contemplated in some cases - another one was placed in the town hall, being accompanied of celebration and popular rejoicing. A very interesting photograph by Laurent from the end of the XIX century, commercialized in a postcard around 1905, after the death of the famous photographer in 1886, sample shows us the façade totally ornamented by the aforementioned elements.

Returning to topic of the photograph, we must remember that in those years in Navarre there was a climate of exaltation around the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the consecration of several towns and the enthronement of his image in various municipalities such as Tafalla in 1899, the valley of Guesálaz in 1900 or Ablitas in 1916. The chronicle that illustrates the photo of Elizondo reads as follows:

On October 7, 1899, a large pilgrimage in honor of the Heart of Jesus was held in the capital of the Baztan Valley, Elizondo, attended by all the towns that make up that municipality, together with the villages of Maya and Urdax, and the town of Zugarramurdi. The pilgrimage had the double purpose of making amends to Christ for the outrages inflicted on his sacred image in various towns of Spain, and at the same time to stamp the municipal house of the valley with the coat of arms of the most loving Heart of Jesus.

For the celebration of the main function the pilgrims gathered in the squares called Vieja and Rebote, rising in the angle of both, near the palace of the Count of Tilli, a showy altar, in the center of which a magnificent image of the Heart of Jesus stood out. The function began at ten o'clock in the morning, celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass Don Leoncio Luis Iturralde, parish priest of Errazu, assisted by Don Crisóstomo Palacios and Don Ignacio Eraso, parish priest and curate respectively of Elizondo. The sermon, which was very notable and full of evangelical unction, ran to position of the illustrious baztanés Don Dámaso Legaz, lector canon of Pamplona. After the mass, Don Juan Istilart made the consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and then the mayor of the Valley, Don Lino place, received from the archpriest Mr. Iturralde, the shield of the Heart of Jesus, which was immediately placed in the house of the Town Hall, in view of the whole crowd that witnessed the ceremony, ending the solemnity with the song Oh Biotz Saindu.

It was not possible to include in a single photographic plate all the large number of faithful to the pious festivity that we slightly reviewed, so to form an idea it is required the combined meeting of two or more of the many that were obtained. The one that we reproduce, represents to the right the Town Hall of the Baztan Valley, with its coats of arms of famous men, being seen in the central window of the second floor the preparatory works for the placement of the shield of the Deífico corazón, and it is taken at the moment of the celebration of the main mass. You can also see the part of Main Street, today Don Jaime Urrutia, with its stately houses and the magnificent tower of the parish church, a work executed at the expense of Field Marshal Pedro Fermín Mendinueta y Garro, son of the Micheltorena house, today of Don Melitón de Iturria, who also donated a valuable monstrance and chalice to the church".