Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Saturday in Oviedo

And so to Oviedo, the capital of Asturias and a delightful city on a sunny Saturday morning in early summer. And probably in the middle of winter as well.

First to our hotel to drop our bags and then straight to the old quarter and the cathedral. Not a bad deal at €6-8 for an audio-assisted tour of the cathedral, its Cámara Santa and its sumptuously stuffed museum.

As ever in Spain, the interior is magnificent - in an OTT sort of way - and is a huge testament to man's creativity, ingenuity and – no doubt - inspiration. But has there ever been a religion anywhere, anytime in the world which speaks so much of pain, grief and death than Catholicism? Not to mention vast wealth. And the equally vast power and comfort of its hierarchy. The only surprise is that it took 1,500 years for someone to speak out against the latter and the corruption it engendered. Though I suppose Chaucer had a go in the 14th century. Personally, I think it's was well past time the Church did something charitable with its enormous holdings of gold, silver and jewels, even if this does cause the prices of these to plummet around the world. Can it really be justified keeping these as gee-gaws merely to be gawped at - by both theists and atheists - in all their superfluity and inherent uselessness?

But, anyway, here are some fotos of the splendours of the cathedral:-

The main altar:-

Side altars. Almost as many as in Santiago de Compostela:-

The cloisters: 'Back in the day' these probably didn't echo to the volume of noise created by a group of visiting Spanish women.

Saturday is obviously wedding day in both the cathedral and the town hall, where they're always accompanied – it seems – by Asturian pipers. Here's a few fotos of the guests and the couples themselves. And a video of one arrival at the cathedral. As ever, pretty Spanish women were not averse to being snapped by an (albeit charming) stranger:-

Oviedo is famous for its bronze statues and here are a few of them. There seems to be an aspect – nudity - shared by many of them. The one of Woody Allen commemorates his winning of an award a few years ago. I was surprised there was no young woman at his side:-


As with all major Spanish cities, there are several beautiful buildings in Oviedo. Here are a few. Inevitably, banks feature large in their ownership. Or at least their tenancy. Ditto churches. Both insitutions are very good at taking money from the faithful, of course.

 The town hall, in a panorama supplied by Google Photos. Of course, it doesn't curve at one end:-

Again as is the norm in Spain, the city is very clean. This is effected in part by water-spraying machines such as these titans fighting it out for the honour of sloshing one particular street:-

Finally . . .  Whether you understand Spanish or not, you should be able to find the error in this paragraph from an issue of Hola!:-


Alfred B. Mittington said...

I am sorry to correct you, but ever since the Dark Middle Ages, the history of Christianity is marbled and riddled with movements which criticized the wealth and lavish living of the priesthood and the monks. This is what brought forth such interesting and often violent groups as the Cathar, the Waldensians, the Anabaptists and countless other millenarian movements.The only difference with Lutheranism (which I guess is what you were thinking of when you wrote '1,500 years') is that Luther's movement won and survived. You may wish to take a look at Norman Cohn's 'The Pursuit of the Millennium', which is a fascinating read on the subject.


Eamon said...

"gold, silver and jewels" which you mention can only be bought by the rich. On your next trip to London you should visit the Albert and Victoria museum in Kensington where you can view gold and silver objects looted from the churches in Spain during the Spanish civil war.

Perry said...


It could be said that the V & A helped the Spanish people escape the clutches of Rome, by sequestering the loot. Although that theory might be just a little far fetched.


Lutheranism ultimately, has failed the Swedes. They will be over run by Islam. Forty years after the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1,472%. Sweden is now number two on the list of rape countries, surpassed only by Lesotho in Southern Africa.

As ye sew, so shall ye rape.

Colin Davies said...

Eamon: They were bought with the contributions of the poor or left to the Church by the rich who taxed the poor.The proceeds of their sale should be given back to the poor.ave them to the mu

How did the V&A come to get hold of stuff stolen from the Church? Sold by the poor who robbed the churches to the rich who gave them to the musuem??? said...

It would be so refreshing to hear of someone enjoying a church or a bank or other splendid building without rolling out the old bile and whine.

The cathedral building is beautiful, period. No matter who built it. It holds centuries of history -- and amazingly enough, some of that history may not all be ugly and abusive. Some of it may have to do with love, kindness, healing, redemption, reconciliation, feeding the poor, treating the sick, teaching kids to read... and human decency.

Dumping on a building because you don't approve of some of people who built it is a bit like refusing to see a Woody Allen film or a Picasso artwork because you don't approve of their choices in wives or girlfriends.

Let the splendid building be splendid. Just enjoy something nice, ferchrissakes.

Colin Davies said...

Well, firstly, I didn't dump on the church, only on the Church. Secondly, as a lapsed RC, I'm well aware of the both the good and the bad of the Catholic Church. No one in their right mind could deny it's done both great good and also great evil. For some of us, it coninues to do both. And to fail to live up to its own standards of, say, charity - 'The greatest of these'. Fourthly, I stressed the church, as a building, was a testament to everything human I said it was. I religiously visit them all for what they are and what they contain. Fifthly, I find it hard to believe that you regard a cathedral as merely a building. It isn't. It's a symbol, especially for the faithful, who see in it a glorification of god and an aide-memoire of the (alleged) second life to come. No theist, I suspect, goes to a cathedral just to 'enjoy something nice'.

Does anyone, for example, go to the Lubianka and just admire its dimensions? Ditto the efficiency of a Nazi concentration camp. Not, of course, that I'm equating anything with anything. Just pointing out that a building dedicated to a purpose or a belief system is hard/impossible to see as just a building. Hence the respectful silence, the holy water, the wearing or not of hats, the proper dress, etc.

I passed the luxurious premises of the priest(s) and bishop next to our basiilica-cum-cathedral tonight and, as ever, couldn't help thinling of all the pennies of the poor seamen that financed them. And made the clerics fat. As in Castelao paintings I recently cted. In line with the old Spanish saying that ?if you want to be happy for week, get married. If you want to be happy for a month, get a pig and eat it. If you want to be happy for life, hazte cura.

Eamon said...

Well I see my comment has touched a nerve. I don't have to account for why the museum has such things in their possession. As you haven't seen them I can tell you that the objects are sacred vessels used during the Mass and were the personal property of a priest. I have no idea from which churches they came.

Colin Davies said...

No, you didn't, Eamon. Though Rebekah might have done.

No, you don't have to account for anything. I'm just interested to know how the V&A got hold of the stuff.

I've been in enough - dozens - of Treasuries of church valuables in Spain and Portugal to know that these can't possibly all be used in services. Certainly not the diamond rings. etc. sold by the faithful to buy their way into Heaven via Masses. I cannot understand why the Church keeps them and shows them off. They are very different items from the old wooden and stone statues, for example, in the museums.

As for the religious paintings by famous artists, why not donate them to public galleries so that even more people can see them?

And all those vestments adorned with gold and silver threads. Is this what the poor man, Jesus, really wanted or expected from his followers. I rather doubt it. Some would say he didn't want a (well-fed) hierarchy either.

And then there's the Vatican and its sumptuous accommodations, including those eschewed by the current Pope. Really necessary?

Eamon, there's no denying the RC Church is a very rich organisation. The questions are: Why? and What should it do with all its surplus wealth? You don't seem very ready to address these. Your view seems to ignore them and to criticise those who tried to take them away from the Church.

I don't know what Rebekah's answers are but expect to get them next week, when I do a camino with her . . .

No good comes from defending the Church whatever it has done. This leads to secrecy and exculpation of abusive priests. As we well know.

It's all about net balance. For you - and, I'm guessing, Rebekah - this is positive. For me it's negative. But, of course, I would never deny you your point of view. Nor would I cease to respect you as a person. Some of my best friends (and relatives) are Cathoilic! And Jewish. And Jehovah Witnesses, etc.

But no Satanists, I'm sad to say. But you never know.

I'm very ecumenical!

Eamon said...

So you are calling me a liar. Well for your information the vessels were still on view in 1967 and each one had a card stating who had donated it.

Colin Davies said...

How on earth do you arrive at that conclusion, Eamon?

Perry said...


The beginnings of the RC church have interested me for years. If you are also so inclined, then Bargil Pixner was/is a useful source of information.

Perry said...

Who likes oddities?

In Israel, there is Palmach Tzova kibbutz founded in 1948. a global company with an international client base, is based there.

John the Baptist worked on the same site, it would seem.

Hell's teeth! I should start a blog.

Eamon said...

Your reply used the personal pronoun you. My statement said "my comment has etc" not "I" have struck a nerve. Thus your reply should read " No it hasn't" referring to the noun comment. So I have to backtrack to my first statement in your comments and come to the conclusion you are referring to me reporting about the vessels. With regards to the rest of your remarks having friends of a certain ilk doesn't qualify anything you say.

Perry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Davies said...

Not sure I understand this, Eamon. But I hope the situation is now clear. I don't expect you to accept my views. And I certainly haven't implied or said you are a liar.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Perry, for your citations. Let us know when yo start the blog.