Ribadesella is a municipality rich in mural paintings. It is at rock level, with the prehistoric murals of Tito Bustillo -one of the most important in the world-, also with the breathtaking scenes of his parish church of Santa María Magdalena, and more recently for the restoration of the Renaissance murals found in the Church of San Salvador de Moru.
To be able to visit the interior of the church, a prior appointment is essential. You can see the information of interest and contacts at the end of the article.
We approach this Romanesque temple, with its sober exterior and surprising content, along a county road that leads us to an undisturbed place. The church of Moru dominates a panoramic full of stillness and beauty. A placid and sacred hill where it is easy to go back to the past. Only the route that takes us to this promontory and the views that we reach from it, deserve and a lot of it. But if we also arrange a guided tour of the interior of San Salvador, then our time will have been very well spent.
The struggle to recover San Salvador
The Church of Moru stands alone, with no houses or villages in sight. Its construction began in the XII century and some of the architectural elements are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Asturias. His ungainly belfry, nineteenth-century invoice, is one of its hallmarks and allows easy identification in the distance.
Traditionally it was a neuralgic point of the liturgy and the sociability of a good number of villages in the western zone of Ribadesella. Neighbors of Nocéu, Tezangos, Cuevas, El Carmen, La Granda, Sardeu, Soto and Tresmonte, among other rural centers, come to this parish for the ceremonies of rigor. They are baptized, they get married, their souls rest in peace in the cemetery. From always, also they congregated for festive reasons or assemblies. Moru was the social epicenter of this small region. But since the Civil War years the temple, which it was set on fire, remained abandoned and without roofing. Only the solidarity between villages and the unconditional love of the neighbors will continue giving life to San Salvador. For years, without caring about the inclemency, they went to the religious acts umbrella in hand. The image of the Masses in the rain is a faithful reflection of the neighborhood resistance, of his refusal to give everything for lost. The same happens with the ringing of their bells, which have not stopped ringing from 1840.
The fire, which fatally brought the hardships of the temple, also left the germ of his resurrection. It was the flames that, opening gaps in the whitewashed vault, left in evidence indications and clarifying signs of the murals of the sixteenth century. In the end, 80 years later, the historical and artistic value of these paintings has meant that San Salvador is included in the inventory of Cultural Heritage of Asturias, opening capital funding ways to protect it. Structural interventions have taken place in recent years, culminating with the placement of a new roof 2014 in May.
The Moru Church Cultural Association, constituted in 2008, is the great architect of this miracle. With just six years of life, and with a firm pulse, he has managed to return to this church its dignity and bearing. In addition, he has managed to multiply his patrimonial interest by far. The economic items reached for the restoration of paintings They have given excellent fruit. Like a buried treasure, new figures and scenes of singular beauty are emerging here and there. To date, they have barely been restored 40% of paints that live under the lime; which gives an idea of the wonders that can be "unearthed" yet.
The tenacity of this association and its fervent admiration for San Salvador has been rewarded with the unanimous applause of the whole world. The distinctions and recognitions follow each other. In November, 2014 received the «Crismón de Jaca», an award granted by the Friends of Romanesque Association. The award was justified for "having opted for the conservation, restoration and enhancement of a church of Romanesque origin that, if it were not for this association, would be on the ground". For the same reason he received in August of 2015 the "Farin" award, one of the most prestigious awarded in Ribadesella, given annually by the Friends of Ribadesella Cultural Association.
The paintings of San Salvador de Moru
In the wide head of the church we came across a fortune.
The main scenes of the walls of the vault develop themes of the Passion. On the right, the scene of the Jesus' arrest. Surrounded by his apostles, he receives the kiss of Judas and the soldiers assail him. The unknown author of the murals could have signed with a letter "A" on the sword of St. Paul. The sequence is divided by the opening of the wall. About him we see a mysterious character that points to the following scene: Jesus praying next to two of his apostles, already asleep. Then, kneeling and holding up his hands, he receives the symbols of the Passion from the Angel.
In the wall on the left, it surprises us a saintly supper of a fabulous size and of Italian influence. Jesus appears with the Sacred Form before a large rectangular table. In the foreground and next to the table closest to the spectator, Judas is represented with the bag of coins. On the far left, a character bursts into the room with a jug. On the other side, outside the scene, appears a musician angel, wedged between two feigned pillars.
On the wall behind the altar, the author decided to paint an allegory of the good death, with a group of people singing psalms, a corpse, and the angels that take their soul to heaven under the watchful eye of the devil.
Preside the church, from the vault, a Pantocrator which holds the orb with the papal crown. In this figurative sky of Moru are also represented the Sun and the Moon, the beginning and the end, the night and the day.
In the opinion of the restorers, Moru's paintings are "very mobile" because the author proposes us to read the scene. For their style, they suggest that the author was experienced and had seen a lot of painting.
Of what remains to be restored, the priorities are currently focused on the vault and the front.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com