Covadonga and its surroundings is one of the cardinal points of Asturias. A sacred and beautiful latitude to which faithful, tourists and mountain lovers approach. There rests the image of the worshiped Santina, patron of the region. The average altitude of the place, on the way to the Picos de Europa or to the sky, makes it a crossroads of Asturian religiosity and its landscape.
Covadonga also has a lot of historical height. One of its most legendary dimensions is an unparalleled feat, historical reference of the first magnitude of remote Spain. In this place, armed with stones and little else, the territorial hordes began the Reconquest of the peninsula and the constitution of a whole Asturian kingdom. With Pelayo At the head, the Arabs fought in retreat, humiliated. Legend has it that the Astures were patiently hidden in the recesses of these mountains waiting for their chance. In the year 722 would come out of hiding to see their faces with their enemy and finally triumph in what we know today as the Battle of Covadonga. The autochthonous militias were far less numerous than those of the "infidels." The victory took on epic tones and entered its own name in the annals of history and in the chapters of textbooks. A sculpture by Don Pelayo in the vicinity of the basilica shows us a firm and serene man, protagonist of an era.
The cave of the Virgin of Covadonga
In the name of the legend we can continue talking about Covadonga. Ancient chroniclers argued that the cult of Santina is older than it may seem, and that already in the time of Pelayo the Virgin was very well considered and decisively influenced in the Christian victory. «Pequeñina y galana», as the singing says, has a cave for her alone since then. Excavated in the rock is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful spots in Covadonga and a few thousand annual pilgrims come in search of some extra grace for their lives. From this catholic heart, collected and intimate, the prayers take on a greater meaning than the cameras or the tourist look, although they also abound in the vicinity.
The cave can be accessed by a staircase of 101 rungs in which it is usual to see demonstrations of penitents in fulfillment of some promise, many raise it on their knees, praying or kissing the ground, with candles lit or arms crossed, some giving thanks and others praying for a miraculous response from the Lady.
Etymologically Covadonga comes from the Latin expression 'Cova dominica' which means 'Cave of the Lady'. The 17 October 1777 sanctuary was virtually destroyed due to a large fire. The current image of the Virgin, after this fire, is a more peaceful and funny face than the previous one, it is said. It is erected on a stone pedestal, and its size and delicacy justify its affectionately being called "La Santina". The bones of King Pelayo and Alfonso I rest with his image, and in the air there is admiration that two popes, John XXIII and Juan Pablo II, professed in visits to the Asturian sanctuary.
From the immense rock, just below the grotto of the Virgin, an impressive cataract that forms in its fall a lagoon in which the visitors must fulfill the rite of throwing a coin. The flash of the vile metal remains without lucrative function, sunk as a deposit only of immaterial desires. Another of the popular rites is associated with the Fuente de los Siete Caños, which is also under the cave and which is said verbatim: "The Virxen de Covadonga, has a very clear source, the neña that drinks from it, in of the year he marries ». Those who are in a hurry to get married already know ... that they will quench their thirst in Covadonga.
The basilica of Covadonga
We went from the divine cave to human architecture. The beauty Basilica of Covadonga It was built between the years 1877 and 1901. The disappearance of his original plans, possibly during the Civil War, left her without her original radiography. However, this monument is considered one of the best examples of neo-Romanesque architecture of the late nineteenth century. Recently he celebrated his centenary proudly, always standing on the hill of Cueto, on the edge of a semicircular abyss. The building It is visible from everywhere and it attracts looks like a powerful magnet with human eyes. Inside you breathe the expected calm, and an immemorial organ It sounds on the heights when it touches ceremony.
Until the end of the 19th century the cult was very poor; Covadonga arrived some pilgrims in the summer and especially during the Ninth and feast of the Virgin the September 8. The Sanctuary had bad communications, in addition the canons did not reside there but they came in turn to celebrate the Masses. Nowadays everything has changed. A large group of ecclesiastics watches over the cult and the facilities, and visitors have grown in numbers to overflow all expectations.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com