Santo Toribio de Liebana

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October, 2019

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Santo Toribio de Liébana monastery is two miles south of Potes, Cantabria, in the magical area of Liebana, where roads are a real prize for motor bike lovers and all who enjoy the pleasures of driving.

Having previously visited and staying in the area, we decided to revisit. The Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana is a Roman Catholic monastery and one of the five places in Christianity namely, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Jerusalem ,and Caravaca de la Cruz which has the privilege of issuing perpetual indulgences.

Santo Toribo is built in Gothic style, with a Cistercian influence. It was founded prior to the 6th century and it is said that a Romanesque construction once stood on the site, as well as some shrines carved out of the rocks. Remnants of the rocks can still be seen.

The Monastery contains one of the largest surviving pieces of the cross (Lignum Crucis), where Jesus was crucified, thus making it an important place of pilgrimage. This piece of the Wood of the Cross (relating to the left arm of the Cross, is kept inside a reliquary in the form of a cross of golden silver with flordelized capes of Gothic tradition placed in an 18th century baroque chapel.

On April 16, 1961, the Franciscan friars, Custodians of the Holy Places, were entrusted with the relic’s safekeeping and with the promotion of the devotion to the Holy Cross.

In the monastery are illuminated manuscripts of Beato’s work. About 25 survive today, dating between the 9th and 13th centuries. The cloister shows replicas, but the original text was lost.

While we were visiting, a coach tour were being shown around and the chapel was opened to enable the visitor’s to venerate the relic. So we had the opportunity to join them. Many people have testified to having received graces praying in front of the relic of the True Cross in Santo Toribio.

The Monastery is open to the public every day, all year round. An explanation, blessing, and veneration of the Lignum Crucis (The True Cross) are available. Visiting hour schedules do change so it is best to phone beforehand.

We then drove another 500m past the monastery to the small 13th-century Ermita de San Miguel (St Michael the Archangel).

Some wonderful views from this place.

Caroline Hutchings

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