As we have been reviewing in this blog since its creation, the History of the Bethlehem portal in Spain It dates back to the fifteenth century, with those first births installed by some Franciscan monks throughout the Spanish geography. About the origins of the Bethlehem in Spain, a lot has been written, but ... do you really know? which is the oldest Bethlehem in Spain?


Realities and legends about the Bethlehem of Jesus

Tradition has it that in 1536, a ship from Italy suffered a severe storm that dragged it to the Mallorcan coast. During the storm, the ship's captain promised to deliver one of the figures of the seven births he carried as cargo. Being the light of the old Convent of Our Lady of Los Angeles which led to the salvation of the ship and the monks their saviors, these finally received with the figures of the birth.

The question is that, although it is suspected that already in the fifteenth century figures were installed in some convents to represent the Birth of Jesus, the truth is that there is no reliable news in Spain of any nativity of complete figures until this early Franciscan XVI. Is it the oldest in Spain the Bethlehem of Jesus?

The World - birth

Detail of the Nativity Photo: El Mundo - Jordi Abellá


The figures of the oldest Bethlehem in Spain

Currently, the Bethlehem of Jesus is in the church of the Annunciation of Palma, where the Holy Christ of the Blood is venerated, coming from the disentailment in 1835 of the convent of Our Lady of the Angels of Jesus. The manger was placed, as in its previous location, in the first chapel on the right, with the same measures as before.

Our figures of Bethlehem of Jesus are made of wood. San José and the Virgin measure 1,42 and 1,18 meters in height; the 6 angels with musical instruments, about 80 cm; the mule and the ox, 1,30 m. On the cave there are three shepherds (with cleat, drum and barrel, respectively) of just under a meter. There are also 9 white or black sheep and two black dogs.

A curiosity of these figures is their Gothic style. Art historian Rudolf Berliner attributed them to the Alamanno sculptors, authors of some famous Neapolitan nativity scenes, towards 1480. In other words, the figures had been made 50 years ago when they arrived in Spain. Where they were before remains an unknown, although some historians say that it could have been an order from Fernando de Aragón from the Neapolitan court for some Spanish ecclesiastical institution, not finally reaching its destination.

El Mundo Jordi Abellá - figures

Detail of the figures of the Bethlehem. Photo: The World - Jordi Abellá


The Bethlehem of Jesus: really the oldest in Spain?

It is believed that they could exist at that time nativity scenes with characteristics similar to those of the Bethlehem of Jesus, especially in the Balearic Islands and the Levantine area of ​​Spain. This is attributed to a possible distribution of the same Franciscan order residing in the Convent of Jesus, which was distributing the figures among brothers from other cities.

In the Cathedral of Valencia, for example, there are indications of the existence of a portal already in 1468, when the renovation of the figures of the mystery of Christmas is attested documentarily, giving testimony that already before that date a manger had been installed, at least basic. So, assert that the Bethlehem of Jesus is the oldest in Spain can not be a categorical statement. However, it is clear that it must have been, at least, one of the first to please the Christmas of its lucky visitors. The case is ... what about reality and what of legend in the arrival of this nativity scene to the Mallorcan coasts?


Fecha: 15 / 09 / 2017|Categories: History of the belenismo|Tags: , , , , |

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