Royal Monastery of San Pelayo de Antealtares

The Royal Monastery of San Pelayo de Antealtares (Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares in Galician) is a Spanish convent of Benedictine nuns. It is situated snugly in the old town of Santiago de Compostela, bordering the Plaza de Quintana across from the back wall of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The building was originally founded in the 11th century by King Alfonso II along with 12 Benedictine monks. It was developed to allow those monks to protect and worship the tomb of the Apostle James. The Benedictine monks left in 1499 and the monastery was then inhabited by the cloistered nuns. It is noted that during the times the nuns first occupied the church, it was considered the most important convent in Galicia as it had the support of the Crown and received considerable gifts from nobles, more then any other convent in Spain during that time.

The original building is no longer standing today as it was demolished. What stands before us now is from the 17th and 18th centuries.  The long side that creates the border of Plaza de Quintana holds a plaque in the centre celebrating the Literary Battalion, an organised group in Galicia defending against the invasion of Naploleon’s troops. The plaque was formed by a group of university students here in Santiago de Compostela.

Ora et Labora, the pray and work motto of the Benedictine order, is still demonstrated within this present day convent as it is utilised for many functions. It holds the Sacred Art Museum which exhibits the oringial altar of the church; runs a monastic hospice, university housing and a primary school. Today the Santiago Benedictine has 40 nuns that actually do not leave the premises. They work six hours a day which include tending to the hospice centre, the university students and running tasks within in primary school and art museum.  These mothers also occupy the day trial of Gregorian chan which is essential to the Order of St Benedict.

One last daily task held by the Nuns are to make daily fresh biscuits and Santiago cake to be sold to the public. Access to purchase these sweets are at the door at Rua de San Paio de Antealtares.  Along the street you will find a large green door to enter. There you will find a window to the left. Ring the bell and one Mother will attend to your bakery requests.  The green door closes at mass at 7 PM daily.

cookiewindow

We have tried both the Santiago cake and biscuits from the mothers and they are not to be missed on your visit to Santiago de Compostela. The monastery is only a few more steps following your Camino de Santiago. We will see you at the window!

You can attend regular worship and visit the church: Monday – Saturdays 10:30-1:40; 4-7 PM.

 

Monasterio e Iglesia de San Paio de Antealtares | Web Oficial de Turismo de Santiago de Compostela y sus Alrededores. (n.d.). Retrieved July 09, 2016, from https://www.santiagoturismo.com/monumentos/mosteiro-e-igrexa-de-san-paio-de-antealtares-11
Pastries in the convents of Santiago de Compostela. (n.d.). Retrieved July 09, 2016, from https://www.pousadasdecompostela.com/en/blog/reposteria-en-los-conventos-de-santiago-de-compostela

Ashleigh Mell

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