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- On the banks of the River Sar -

      The architectural whole of Sainte Marie of Sar, a singular example of Romanic art, is summoned in the proximities of the historical center of Santiago de Compostela, in a compostellan area of deep tradition, the district of Sar, crossed by the river with the same name, which banks were song by Rosalía de Castro and over we can admire a Medieval beautiful bridge. That Romanic bridge of three arches served as entrance to Compostela for the pilgrins that arrived to the city in addiction to go through the east-south Way, as know as “Vía de la Plata” (in translation, Silver route).

- The history of Sar behind its testimonies -

      Regardless, in the begins, the construction of the Monastery of Sar has as fundamental function: serve as house of retirement for the regulars canons governed by Saint Augustine rule, one made review if its participation in the promotion of Route Jacobea and its hospitality dedication were very significances in the story of the pilgrimages to Compostela. The presence of the Augustinians alongside the Milky Way is easy to constant from Roncesvalles to the city of Compostela.

      The community of Sar constituted, moreover, a solid support for the other foundations placed in the environment of French Way as Santa María de Loio, in the locality of Portomarín (Lugo). In that sense, is quite eloquent the active collaboration of some Augustinian canons that promoted the foundation of Santiago’s Order (la Orden de Santiago) in 1170.

- Munio Alfonso: the iniciative -

      The foundation of Sar's monastery is narrowly linked to the figure of Munio Alfonso, ancient member of Cathedral’s chapter, loyal collaborator of Diego Gelmírez Bishop and co-author, together with the Bishop Hugo de Oporto and Giraldo de Beauvais, of the History of Compostela. In 1112, Gelmírez proposes him as Bishop of Mondoñedo, post that he recovered for twenty-two years, avoiding numerous difficulties and whom he(she) resigns voluntarily in 1134.

      After leave the Mondoñedo’s see, he returns to Santiago with an objective: the foundation of a small monastery ruled by a community of Augustinians -that’s why he adquired an area outside the city, in the sorounding areas of the River Sar. His death the 26 of June 1136, prevents him from seeing his desire fulfilled; nevertheless, before dying, he entrusts to his great friend, an already Archbishop, Diego Gelmírez, the accomplishment of his longed project.

- Diego Gelmírez: the impulsor -

      Gelmírez, who in that moment had got very good relations with the influential Benedictine Abbey of Cluny (Borgoña, France), was interested equally by the new spiritual tendencies of Occident, as soon as the case of Saint Augustine regulars canons. With the foundation, in the year 1130, of the Augustinian monastery of Santacruz de Coimbra (Portugal) began the expansion of Augustinian communities toward the north of Miño’s River. The area of Sar, that was chose by Munio Alfonso, showed as a suitable stage for the creation of a congregation of Canons ruled by this Rule. Moreover, with it constitution could realized the last wish of his loyal collaborator.

      The 1st of September 1136 was signed the foundational diploma (one of the historical documents preserved more valuables of the cultural legate of Sainte Marie of Sar), which will be confirmed by the King Alfonso VII, the 20 of July 1137. This there supposes the constitution of the first Augustine community of Galicia, who adds, thus, to the new ones and current spiritual European reformers.

      With the firm decision of instaurar with success the foundation, Gelmírez promote the relations between the regular canons and Compostela see, compromising to keep the high officials and privileges of those Cathedral’s canons who decided to moved to live to the Augustine community of Sar. The paper of the first Compostela Archbishop was, definitively, determinate for the creation of this new Priory.

- Influences -

      The construction of the Medieval building of Sainte Marie of Sar started by the Chapels of the Church’s head, which works started during the second third of 12th century, under the direct influence of the Cathedral’s studio. The Archbishop, Diego Gelmírez, consecrated it before its death (1140), when a lot of time was absent for its conclusion that with whole probability was in the firsts years of 13th century. The stylistic reference in Sar to Master Mateo (creator of the Famous Pórtico de la Gloria, of Compostela basilica) will be a constant in the years later. Thus, the studio that was commended to finished the Church, the construction of the Cloister and the monastic dependences, in the last decades of 12th century and beginning of 13th century, was demonstrating a clear influence of Master Mateo studio.

- Donations -

      The Crown support through the concession of donations, immunities and privileges to the Augustine community was a common denominator along all the Middle Ages, fact that was collected in Sar’s medieval documentation, as well as in other documents of jurisdictional, administrative and hospitable character. That Crown contributions and other more modest gave the enough means for built the Monastery, they were constant even finished the works. To the donation made by Fernando II in 1378, that exempts to pay the Royal tribute as know as “el yantar del Rey”, immunity that was confirmed thereafter by Henry III, John II and Henry IV.

      Other contributions to the enlargement of Sar were the incorporations of different rural temples (as know as “cenobios”) which, since last of 14th century, were promoted by some Archbishops of Santiago. In this way, in 1390, it produced the annexation of San Esteban de Anós (Cabana, A Coruña) by order of the Archbishop Juan García Manrique. Later, in 1405, joined the regulars canons of Santo Tomé de Nemeño (Bergantiños, A Coruña) by order of Archbishop Lope de Mendoza and the San Xoan da Coba (Pico Sacro, Santiago de Compostela), too

- The declivity -

      Neither the progressive annexations no the fact that this priory where chose as place of retirement for relevant personalities managed prevented the gradual declivity of Sar, which starts in 16th century coinciding with the order of Jácome Álvarez (1505-1536), prior comendatario and Archbishop of Tarso who was buried in the Church of Sainte Marie of Sar. It was during that period when the Priory converted in Collegiate. To this debilitation of the institution it joins, later, in the year 1548, the substitution of Saint Augustine canons by secular clergy, fact that decrease the influential position which had the Augustine community.

      That sequence of facts connected with the internal functioning and the sociological projection of Sar coincide, in an aggravating way, with the beginning of the monastery Church’s damage, in the second third of 17th, that it extends in a progressive and very fast way, to the Cluster and de monastic dependencies.

      At the finish of 17th century and during the first third of 18th century the visit of the more relevant Compostela’s architects to Sar is a constant. Their repeated informs about the necessary of an urgent intervention, in first moment, in the Church, are continued, but the economical scarcity of the community prevents take fitted urgent measures. The economic aportation of some institutions, as San Martín Pinario Monastery, among other things, would be vital for the definitive recuperation, in 1732, of this jewel of Galician Romanic.

- The Baroque splendor -

      During the 18th century, the Collegiate of Sainte Marie of Sar disposes of a economical situation more guarantee and recovers a artistic and cultural notable vitality. The brilliance of the ceremonial sacred one that characterizes the catholic liturgy of the baroque culture brings over to the monastery the work of the best from Santiago de Compostela silversmiths of the moment. In this way, the holy glasses of the temple, the parish cross, the reliquaries and censers and other distinctive elements in the religious ritual are of an exquisite invoice and of a big artistic quality. The same happens with the liturgical ornaments made on rich cloths embroiders with gold and silver threads. All of them, take part of the valuable collection of holy jewels, ornaments and objects –guard, nowadays, in the Museum- which shows the magnificent of Art Baroque in Compostela’s city.

      As a faithful reflex of economical, cultural and social resurgence of that center is the fact that it’s last Prior, Pedro de Acuña y Malvar (1791), priest of a big intellectual formation, managed to show the charge of Cathedral dean’s and, even, to participate in the political Spanish live of the moment, when he was renowned in 1792 Minister of Grace and Justice by King Charlie IV. In the 19th century, and through the Concordat of 1581 among the Spanish State and the Holy See, the Collegiate -again, in a phase of a certain decadence- turns into one more of Santiago’s archdiocese and its building is declared, in 1895, National Inheritance.

- Sar nowaday -

      The recently history of Sar’s parish is protagonizated by the same parishioners, whose participative way have converted in the principal promoter of the different socio-cultural activities carried out throughout last decades in this local community. Its praiseworthy labour for the dynamization of Sar’s district, where the Parish Priest has a significative paper, had made possible the creation of different work groups of artistic and social character. The examples that shows the permanent support and social services in favour of the community figures the creation, in the old dependencies of the Collegiate, a primary school and a nursery –disappeared-, in which space is located, at the present time, the Museum. In the same line, we should emphasize, too, the creation of the Folkloric Agrupation (as know as “Agrupación Folklórica Colexiata de Sar”), which make clear the interest of the parish in the diffusion of the traditional Galician music and dance and that have being recognized with different national and international rewards.

      In 2000, the Galician Government, through the Culture Department and the Society that managed the Xacobeo, promoted the creation of a project to renewal the Museum which principal objective is put in value and the diffusion of the rich historical and artistic heritage of this space, an inheritance tied to the history of the city and the pilgrimage to Compostela.

      With this purpose one proceeds to the rehabilitation of abandoned space, adjacent to the Monastery’s Cloister, and very spoiled by the time action. The remodelling of this stay includes the elaboration of a museumlogical plan, the adaptation of a illumination system, the creation of expositors and glass cases, in the same way as the design of a new path that facilitates the understanding of the exposed contains. This substantial improvement of the installations guarantee, definitively, the protection of Collegiate’s cultural legate at the same time that symbolize the just recognition to it’s unquestionable artistic value and its indisputable historic prominence.