The piece of the month of February 2022


Ricardo Fernández Gracia
Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art
University of Navarra

After the publication of our monograph on the collection of gozos kept in Cascante and the gozos of Navarre (Pamplona, University of Navarra-Fundación Fuentes Dutor-Vicus, 2019), we were fully aware that, in collections not yet known, or in trade and auctions, new copies would appear to add to the gozos studied and catalogued. Actually, we have barely been able to document the one we present here, corresponding to Santa Bárbara de Mañeru, dated 1864 and made at the Zunzarren Printing House in Estella.

As is well known, this subject of printed matter, so abundant in Catalonia, combines a block, generally xylographic, of a saint or Marian invocation or of Christ with the verses corresponding to the joys sung by the devotees in pilgrimages and festivals. Like the devotional prints, they were acquired in sanctuaries, confraternities and convents.

Gozos a Santa Bárbara de Mañeru,
published by the Zunzarren printing house in Estella in 1864.

Of the same iconography of Saint Barbara and in the same locality of Mañeru, we have already published another print a little later, with the same verses and cue, but unlike the one we now present, in the header of the print there was not only the image of the martyr saint, but it was accompanied by another cue with the figure of the Crucified.

Santa Bárbara had Shrine of Our Lady of Fair Love in Mañeru and her devotees must have been the ones who commissioned a print with the typical outline of the joys, which was published in Estella in the printing house of the Widow of Zunzarren. The caption "Estella: Imp. de Zunzarren - 1864" evokes a long family of printers. The print must correspond to the activity of Javier Zunzarren, who was succeeded around 1867 by his widow and son Melchor, who worked between 1867 and 1878. Melchor is documented at least between 1878 and 1900.

The text on degree scroll of the print reads: "ORACIÓN DE SANTA BARBARA BENDITA". The sheet printed on one side only is made of avitelado paper and measures 313 x 205 mm. The text of the verses is distributed in two columns and is framed by the typographic border, which also contains the upper xylographic block.

The same woodcut block was previously used in a devotional print made by the printing house of Melchor Zunzarren of Estella with the following registration: "Santa Barbara / DE ESTELLA/ Advocate of lightning, sparks and sudden deaths / Anyone who prays an Our Father and Hail Mary before this Holy / Image, can gain innumerable indulgences, granted by several / Most illustrious Lord Bishops / Printing house of M. Zunzarren".

Xylographic block of the Gozos a Santa Bárbara de Mañeru,
published by the Zunzarren printing house in Estella in 1864.

The saint dresses, in the xylographic block that illustrates her joys, timelessly with tunic and velvet cloak. As a virgin, her hair is visible and she holds the tower with a door and its three windows, which iconographically identifies her by alluding with the issue to her adoration of the Holy Trinity in that building, where she had been locked up by her father to keep her from Christian proselytism. She also holds the generic attribute of the martyrs, the palm, in this case with three crowns alluding to victory, truth and triumph. As is known, the palm is an attribute of the martyrs as a symbol of victory over death, which achieves eternal life, and it is also an attribute of virtue, according to what Psalm 91:13 sings: "the just shall prosper like the palm tree". The lyrics of the verses of the joys go through her life's journey: example as a Christian, prison, her father's contumacy, avenged and reduced by lightning, and martyrdom. She ends by asking for his protection against lightning and in "any affliction". At the head of the verses, the following text is added after the name of the saint: "In which she offers to all her devotees to free them from all harm, such as sudden death, lightning, sparks and other misfortunes that the Lord permits, such as air, water, fire, etc. He offers the Holy Image to deliver them from all these damages by praying a Hail Mary and having the Holy Image in his company".

Devotional print of Saint Barbara of Estella,
edited by Melchor Zunzarren in the last third of the 19th century.

Its patronages are abundant. She is invoked against lightning and fire, storms, thunder and lightning, sudden death and by artillerymen since the 15th century -cannons launch lightning-, artificers, arquebusiers, bombers, bell-ringers, miners and stonemasons. Schoolchildren and students worshipped him for having studied the truths of the faith when he was young, stonemasons for the aforementioned tower and farmers for the plagues of locusts. His feast is celebrated on December 4.

In Navarre she has a parish of her patronage (Bariain) and was the patron of forty-five hermitages and numerous confraternities, among them that of the merchants in Pamplona and those established in the convent of San Francisco in the capital of Navarre -later in San Agustín-, San Cernin in the same city of the guanteros, Corella since 1546, Monteagudo since 1713 and Monreal since before 1726. Of this last one it is affirmed in the report of brotherhoods of 1772, conserved in the National Historical file : "there is founded in its parish brotherhood of Santa Barbara, whose image is placed in its basilica, located in the eminence of the mount called Higa de Alaiz, which was built for the reason of the frequency and ravages of the storms".

The issue of silver reliquaries of the saint, belonging to different chronologies and styles, testify to her cult in past times. The oldest is kept in the Augustinian Recollect Nuns of Pamplona and belongs to the last years of the 15th century. Among the localities that keep them are Maya, Garisoain, Huarte-Pamplona, Muruarte de Reta, Añorbe and San Saturnino de Pamplona.


FERNÁNDEZ GRACIA, R., Versos e imágenes. Gozos en Navarra y en una colección de Cascante, Pamplona, Universidad de Navarra-Fundación Fuentes Dutor-Vicus, 2019.

FERNÁNDEZ GRACIA, R., "Heritage and identity (42). Santa Bárbara, cuando truena y más", Diario de Navarra, December 4, 2020, pp. 68-69.

RÉAU, L., Iconography of Christian Art. Iconography of the Saints, t. 2, vol. 3, Barcelona, El Serbal, 1997, pp. 169-178.