MONUMENT TO SAINT FRANCIS

Santiago de Compostela

1925-1930

In 1925 the Franciscans and Third Orders and Youth Antoniane undertake the work to commemorate the celebration of the seventh centenary of the death of St. Francis, whose pilgrimage to Santiago is commemorated in 2013. In Santiago was where the saint received the "celestial order" for founding monasteries throughout the peninsula and the expansion of their Order.

In this commemoration was decided to erect a monument to the saint, entrusts to Asorey, the organizing committee was the M.R.P. Rector of the Franciscans and visitor of the Third Order of Santiago and the RR.PP. Provincial Commissioner of the V.O.T. and National Youth Director of the Anthonys.

The first project of the monument is very modest, but thanks to the propaganda activity of P. Manterola and to be open subscription soon is modified due to the generous contributions arrived from all parts of Spain and even America.

The first project dates from July 1, 1925 provides as follow:

  • The  project will present in plaster.

  • The dimensions: initially the monument would have 9 meters of height, 4 of base in the front and 3, 20 of fund.

  • The cost of materials would be specified, the apparel Saint Francis will be of  gray stone, and his skin will be of sepia marble. The other figures will be  of stone of light-coloured in the pedestal, stones coming from quarries of  Castrelos, and the pedestal from the quarries of Padrón.

  • The artist will charge 40.000 pesetas, broken down payments: 15% for material, 40% during implementation, and the rest on completion of the work.

  • There  is an end time (not specified in this contract); if in that time doesn't finish the work the commission will be able to take possession of it, but  they would pay to Asorey the cost of materials not used, although the amount is justified by deducting from the total amount of the total price of the work.

And it stablishes that before the project is approved a draft drawn pattern with specifying the represented figures and scales, so the committee justifies the sum to pay for the cost of materials. It also specifies that when the monument is settles, their bodies will presented in wood, plaster or more detailed drawings, and provided they don't affect the figures to represent and the materials.

Only will be altered by force majeure and absolutely justified.

The first stone of the monument is placed on October 17, 1926, in the presence of the Peregrinación Terciaria de Galicia, the Comité Internacional del Centenario de San Francisco in Roma and the Junta Nacional del Centenario in Madrid. Asorey is accompanied by Father Martín Manterola, Reverend Samuel Eiján and the Rector of the college Alejandro Toribio. From here the monument increases and develops in height and magnificence to be inaugurated on July 24, 1930.

THE INAUGURATION

In July 24, 1930, the acts occur throughout the day, began with a Communion Mass celebrated for the Father and rector of the School, Fr. José Mosquera. At 10 and a half began the sung Mass.

There was an great influx of public and authorities, being necessary to prepare seats of honour for the different committees: ecclesiastical, civil, military and cultural of Santiago, chaired by the Honourable civil Governor, the Mayor of Compostela, the pontifical university rectors and literary college, the Colonels artillery and infantry etc., besides the Franciscan communities from all parts
of Galicia.

Then from the door of the convent there is a parade headed by prelate Zacaría Martínez Núñez, accompanied by the chorus and military band since the monument, which is discovered by Rodríguez Viguri amid cheers and applause, that multiply to be blessed by the Archbishop.

Then the turn of the speeches; Prelate insists on the supremacy of spiritualism, brilliantly reflected by Asorey. Then it's followed by Don Isidoro Millán, after continues Ramón Cabanillas, reading a emotional poem dedicated to the monument. The last speeche was of Rodríguez Viguri, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Grace and Justice.

After the crowd marched astonished and amazed at the monument, it's repeated in the following days.

THE MONUMENT

Asorey says of his project "To Saint Francis we must build a Franciscan monument. Neither bronze or metallic applications, nor marble. This material wealth belies the Franciscan ideal. All granite. This is very Franciscan. The wealth and colourfulness we must spend it in the design and the execution of the work. On the stone we can record more ideas than matters, perhaps thinner, but never awaken in the viewer. "

" A San Francisco debe erigírsele un monumento franciscano. Ni bronces, ni aplicaciones metálicas, ni siquiera mármoles, Esta riqueza de material desdice del ideal franciscano. Todo de granito. Esto es muy franciscano. La riqueza y vistosidad debemos gastarla en el trazado y ejecución de la obra. En la piedra podemos grabar ideas que materias, más finas quizás, jamás despiertan en el espectador".

The final monument is 12 meters high and 4,10 meters on each side of the base. It's the last great monument he does in his workshop in Caramoniña, and it's in front of the convent of Saint Francis. Its base is a square granite platform, in which Asorey shows inauguration date and his signature (now covered by rearranging the street, an added soil around the base of the monument). Above we can see the commemorative inscription to the "Poor Man of Assisi".

From here the granite is formed into blocks without styling, to the style of dolmens, alluding to the timeless Galicia, together with the representations of vices - clearly inspired by the Pórtico de la Gloria - crushed by the figurative apotheosis.

The first body (2.10 m) is composed of four figurative groups, two in front and two behind, separated by allegorical representations of animals: the sheep and her lamb (an allusion to Christianity and resignation and meekness that Saint Francis instilled the people) and the wolf of Gubbio, brother wolf, whose legs appear a rabbit symbolizing the twinning that Saint Francis preached. Anecdotally noted that the wolf is the same as carved in the Saint Francis, 1926, a work that took the first medal in national exposure. To have a animal model took a "wolf dog" a German shepherd cross with a wild dog; such was the ferocity of the animal that the operators of the studio were scared stiff, and more aware of the wolf dog than
of his work, so had to do some drawings quickly and drop the animal.

The first group, in an attitude of moving towards the center represents the gothic society, the power and the people, in attitude of offering. The first is
represented by the king, the knight and the clergy, identified by the attributes they carry (something that transfer us to the Persian reliefs in that the representatives of each province were going in procession their presents for the monarch). The town is represented by a peasant family. The
father rests thoughtful and hieratic, leaning on the hoe, while the woman becomes, as in so many works of Asorey, in a symbol of motherhood, of union with the land through the flowers that accompany them; it's a figure more expressive and close due to its junction with the son that she carries in her arms; this group is completed with the teenage daughter showing some curiosity to the scene. All figures are very realism, characteristic of this stage.

On the back appear transfigured by the spirit of Assisi, the followers of the order. The shield of the order appears in the center. To the right is a group of three women: Santa Clara, with mystical expression and carrying the Eucharistic monstrance in his hand, a religious sitting and meditating and praying that with Santa Clara represent prayer and work preached by the Franciscans. The third figure is a lady who girds on his clothes the Franciscan cord, representing to the tertiary. To the left there are three male figures that reflect the influence of the Pórtico de la Gloria on Asorey again. One is San Bernardino of Siena in whose arms has a book with the anagram of Christ, the tireless preacher, who appears supported by a knight of the Third Order; the third figure is a friar for which it was taken as a model a Franciscan who at that time lived in the convent; appears clearly meditative attitude, reflecting the richness of his inner life. (2.10 meters)

This body joins with the following with stones knotted as a Franciscan cord, a clear allusion to the saint and with roots in ancient times again, in this case it is a resource of visigothic art.

This body represents to the saint flanked by three delicious female figures, the Virtues: Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Poverty is a maiden who appears upright and smiling on thorns representing his penury. Reminds gothic female figures in the corrugated folds of the tunic and the sweetness of her face. Obedience is a figure with great movement, your body is twisting and seems to tremble in a interior struggles to get rid of worldly pleasures. Finally, Chastity leads between the fingers of his left hand a lily (flower allusive to purity), and raising his right hand in the act of blessing. This body measures 2.25 meters.

In the frontal part and presiding over the monument, the figure of Saint Francis (2.80 meters) appears opening its arms to the Cathedral in reference to his pilgrimage to Compostela and also in attitude of embrace. Wears the habit of the order sculpted in dark gray granite and girt about the cord three knots, of white marble. Head, hands and feet are sepia marble and reflect great spirituality, his face is serene, eyes closed and sketched smile while hands and feet, of studied anatomy, presented the stigmata. The model was a Mr. his last name was Otero, this one was going for the workshop to achieve errands and orders in exchange for lunch with the workers, unfortunately such was their poverty. Highlight the anatomical realism, in the feet perfectly represent the tendons, in the torsos we see the anatomy... due to that Asorey is anatomical sculptor of the Santiago School of Medicine.

Around of the saint, Asorey puts groups of roses of love, lilies and doves, which serve to link this to the upper body.

In the last body, Christ, represented as winged of Verna, radiates his charity to the Saint of Assisi. It combines the human forms with the membranous extremeties, highlighting a fine white granite in contrast to the sepia of the group. The iconography is romanesque: It's a frontal Christ, also hieratic and horizontal, in the anatomical study highlights the torso. The frontal is complemented by the pathos through to a narrow crown of thorns. Christ will "fit" in a star-shaped structure or cross, so the typical Galician "cruceiro", looking to the Compostela Cathedral, marking the way to the holy temple.