THE CHURCH

The parish church of Santa Maria de Lluçà was consecrated in the year 905. It was built, as the consecration record says, by the priest Vinanza, and thus the cult was restored to a place where it had already been previously.
The temple, located under the castle of Lluçà, was formed by a nave with a small cross, in which there was a central apse and an apse chapel at each end. The head was surrounded by anthropomorphous graves. This church disappeared at the end of the XII century, being replaced by a new, larger temple, which, although with many modifications, is what has come to our days. One speaks of 1170-1190 as possible dates of the construction of the church, due to the great amount of donations that are made in Lluçà during this period. It was originally constructed with a structure similar to the previous, with anave, cruise and three apses. The bell tower is not known, because it disappeared later. It is probable that the three altars were originally dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, Saint John and Saint Michael. In 1270 there were other altars, such as those of Saint Augustine and that of Saint Mary Magdalene, which was added to the XIV century the invocation and benefit of the altar of Saint Vincent, which was transferred from the round chapel of the castle of Lluçà, who had this invocation.

Few modifications were made until the 18th century, when the earthquakes of 1428 and 1448 -which strongly affected Catalonia- destroyed the vault of the church, the bell tower and a good part of the monastic buildings. The repair works began by re-enacting the vault of the church; the construction of the bell tower came later, in a period between 1581 and 1661; It was built in Baroque style, with a square floor plan and three floors, the last floor with four windows for the bells, and finished in a roof, with a cast iron railing. In the 18th century, the facade is rebuilt, possibly around 1661, preserving the Romanesque door metal works despite having modified the portal. Also in this century the sacristy was built, the interior of the church was reconditioned and the wall was carved for the side altars. In 1765, the left apse chapel was mutilated to build the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, next to the bell tower, and the interior of the temple was decorated with plaster mouldings, following the Baroque style.

In 1936, with the civil war, the five altars that were in the temple disappeared: the main altar, that of the Blessed Sacrament, that of Saint Isidre, that of Saint John and that of Nostra Senyora del Roser, as well as all altar woodwork pieces.The image of the Virgin of Lluçà also disappeared, a wood carving of the XIII century focusing on the Marian devotion of the parishioners. When repairing the temple, the primitive Romanesque apparatus was discovered under the plaster decorations.

In the Episcopal Museum of Vic, there are three works of art from the church of Santa Maria: an altar cross, from the second half of the 13th century, with the image of the crucified painted directly on the support wood, Gothic style, an altar coating and a wood carving. The coating is formed by a frontal table and two sides, painted in the second half of the 13th century. The reasons for the decoration are Marian, with an image of the Virgin Mary in the centre of the frontal, and with themes related to her life painted around the image and also on both sides. It seems that the front is not painted by the same person who painted the sides, or in any case the artist experienced a strong pictorial evolution between one work and the other. All these pieces kept in the museum have their corresponding reproduction installed in the church of Santa Maria.

Christ in Majesty from Santa Maria in Lluçà

Romanesque
Anonymous

Christ in Majesty from Santa Maria in Lluçà

Vic workshops
Second half of the 12th century
Polychrome poplar wood
Christ (86 x 83.5 x 17 cm); cross (149 x 109.5 x 2.8 cm)

This Christ in Majesty is one of the first works of art to have been added to the Museu Episcopal de Vic’s collection and it was exhibited next to the Romanesque frontals from the Bishopric of Vic at the Barcelona Universal Exhibition of 1888. The figure of Christ appears dressed in the blue tunic, his eyes open with a serene expression, out of his suffering, typical of the iconography of Christ in Majesty developed in Catalonia from the second half of the 12th century onwards. This iconography represents the symbol of Jesus Christ triumphant over death. The cross, fragments of which are conserved, bears the Latin inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” on the front, and on the back there is the figure of the Lamb of God and the apocalyptic symbol of the ox of Saint Luke.

Altar from Santa Maria in Lluçà

Romanesque
Master of Lluçà

Altar from Santa Maria in Lluçà

Vic workshops
Second quarter of the 13th century
Tempera on poplar wood
104.5 x 178.5 x 6 cm (frontal); 102 x 107.5 x 6.5 cm (lateral); 101.5 x 107 x 6.5 cm (lateral)

The Italo-Byzantine current that arrived in Catalonia around the year 1200 was developed in this country until the mid-13th century, and has in the altar from Lluçà the most significant example of the last period of this style. Unlike the works conserved from the first period of this current, on the Lluçà altar there appears a new iconographic scene. It is the Coronation of the Virgin, much used in these same years by the new French Gothic art. The great artistic quality of this work has made it possible to single out the figure of an anonymous master with a defined personality, with whom the frontal from Santa Magdalena in Solanllong (Ripollès) has been identified, and within his circle the magnificent mural paintings from the church of Sant Pau in Casserres, kept in the Museu Diocesà de Solsona. The altar frontal is centred upon the figure of the Virgin with the Child, in accordance with the dedication of the old Marian monastery of Santa Maria in Lluçà, where the altar is from. The mother holds in her right hand the apple from the tree of Paradise, the symbol of Mary as the new Eve, who with her son redeemed humankind from the original sin. Four angels with the names of the evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – hold up the starry representation of the firmament with the sun and the moon, the symbol of eternity. In the four compartments of the frontal there are the scenes of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi and the Flight to Egypt. In one of the side panels there is the previously-mentioned scene of Jesus crowning the Virgin with the inscription: “Regina Celorum”, and in the other side panel the scene of the Virgin surrounded by the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost accompanied by the apostle John.

Virgin from Santa Maria in Lluçà

Romanesque
Anonymous

Virgin from Santa Maria in Lluçà

Vic workshops
Second half of the 12th century
Walnut wood with traces of polychromy
96 x 35 x 35 cm

In Catalonia the veneration of the Virgin spread in a very generalised manner from the second half of the 12th century onwards thanks in large measure to popular devotion and the Cistercian monks’ great work of dissemination. The oldest Romanesque Virgins, like this one from the monastery of Lluçà, are portrayed according to the iconographical model of Byzantine origin known as ‘Maiestas Mariae’ or ‘Sedes Sapientiae’ (Throne of Wisdom). According to this iconographical model the figure of the Virgin acts basically as a throne for the child Jesus, now lost, who was originally sitting right in the middle of his Mother’s lap. The large size of this carving is due to it coming from a Marian monastery, in this case Santa Maria in Lluçà, where in about 1160 an Augustine canonry was established, a date that may coincide with the moment this sculpture was carved.