The Mirror of San Ginés (church)

This posting will conclude my ‘Spanish Saga’ (or so I hope). This is again a very small episode, not a full-blown story but a rather small episode, but interesting enough to write it down.

We can ti Madrid from Zaragoza very late in the evening, when all museum had been closed (which means that I didn’t expect any encounters with the Grand Mirrors in Art yet – the would have happened tomorrow, and I described them in details already – More mirror reunions (in Prado) and The waves of my (mirror) memory, about Thyssen-Bornemisza).  The plan was to make a light walk in the night Madrid

Quite accidentally, but we managed to get to the main church of the city, so called Almudena Cathedral

As I wrote already, we went to Spain in the period around Christmas, and expectedly found huge crowds nearly almost every church. Not surprisingly, the largest one was near this very huge Cathedral. But however huge it was, the building still could not accommodate all the people who would like to listen to the mass.

I’ve never seen before that the service would be broadcasted outside any church, but here we’ve seen at least two large displays with speakers that let all the people to at least remotely participate in this event.

At some point the giant gate of the main entrance closed, and the place became (relatively) empty. We went there to look at the rich reliefs of the doors…

… but suddenly they have opened again, and we were allowed to come in – apparently there was some spare space there. All of a suddenly we managed to witness the largest and perhaps most important mass of the year. It may sound cool, but in reality it was more a liability than asset, because we could hardly see anything, the entire hall was packed with people (like sardines in a can, as they say, only more.)

Inside the cathedral looks even larger from outside, with its almost 50m tall ceiling. It is in fact a relatively modern building, the construction began in the end of 19th century and was completed only in 1993 (!), almost 100 years later.

I could only take a couple of pictures from the corner where we’ve been squeezed:

You could see only fractions of the controversial frescos made by Kiko Argüello, an amateur painter but also the head of a very popular Christian movement called Neocatechumenal Way. Many people considered these frescos an ‘insult‘, and I wanted to check the degree of their offensiveness myself; alas.

But at least I took a few pictures of the colorful stripes on the ceiling, another part of the Kiko’a work for the cathedral; I bet all these ribbons have special meaning, but I don’t know much about it.

Like many large cathedrals, the Almudena Cathedral has a few side chapels, each with a large and richly decorated retablo and some of the panels may even have the mirrors/’mirrors – but I will need another chance to check it.

***

We left the cathedral with a certain confidence that it is not completely impossible to get inside the churches even during this time of festivities.  The city was all full of joy and celebration, and also of zillions of people around. But when we saw another interesting, seemingly very old church, we were ready!

At the entrance I took a picture of an interesting lamp fixture, with a double reflector:

I also managed to take a picture of one of its side altars:

 

and even shoot an installation of the Adoration of the Magi near the main altar:

To only realize that I nearly made a self-portrait, in the mirror that was a part of this composition!

I would love to take more pictures of this interesting mirror, but was fiercely stopped by the church guard. Apparently, it is not allowed to take pictures during the service 😦

But at least I have this one picture. My guess that the mirror was placed there following the lateral reasoning: where is Madonna, there should be a mirror. There are obviously no references to any mirror in the original text, and the context also does not presume the use of any mirrors.

Later I discovered that this mirror bears a funny resemblance with the one I’ve seen in the painting about the Exam on the Doctrina Christina in Zaragoza.

Also later we have discovered that the church we went into is one of the oldest in Madrid. It was the famous  San Ginés church that existed in this place already in the 9th (ninth!) century. The current building exists from the 17th one, though.

And the altar I took picture of almost accidentally is one of the most beautiful and revered retablos in Spain, if not in the Catholic world, so called Real Capilla del Santísimo Cristo de la Redención:

The church is known by its collection of the famous panels and canvases, including, for example, the masterpiece by El Greco, Cleansing of the Temple:

But w haven’t seen this work, unfortunately.

But we did see the very first Madrid Mirror 🙂

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