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Rome Reports

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St. James, the patron saint of the Spanish Church in Rome

Its construction started in the Middle Ages and every step of the way it reflected Spain?s history. At first it was dedicated to the Virgin of Montserrat, where pilgrims from the Kingdom of Aragón would go to pray. Fr. Mariano Sanz Rector, Spanish National Church of Santiago and Montserrat (Rome) "This church is born from the will of two people from Mallorca and Barcelona who wanted to welcome pilgrims. Years ago, there were two buildings here, but they wanted to welcome even more people. Over time, the Brotherhood of Montserrat, which was actually founded here, decided to take down these buildings to start the construction of the church." Back then pilgrims from the Kingdom of Castile had their own church in Piazza Navona, which was dedicated to St. James, or in Spanish Santiago. Now, it?s the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Fr. Mariano Sanz Rector, Spanish National Church of Santiago and Montserrat (Rome)"In the XVIII century the church had not yet been completed. Because of limited resources, they decided it was better to work together by uniting that church dedicated to St. James, all under the protection of San Ildefonso, which was in Piazza Navona." A century after the French invasion, the building deteriorated. The best option at the time was to move to the church of Montserrat. That included transferring everything from sculptures to paintings and even the tombs of several Spaniards. The church has six side chapels. In one of them, King Alfonso XIII was buried until his remains were moved to Spain?s Monastery of El Escorial in 1980. It?s the same chapel where the tombs of two popes from the Spanish Borgia family were placed. Aside from being a place of worship, the Church of Montserrat and Santiago is also the main point of reference for Spaniards who live in Rome. It?s also the Church that welcomes all Latinos who don?t have a church of their own. Fr. Mariano Sanz Rector, Spanish National Church of Santiago and Montserrat (Rome) "The sense of a brotherly relationship with the Latin American countries have always existed and has always been encouraged. We?re open and available when a country wants to celebrate its national holidays here in Rome. It can take place in this church and in that moment it?s also their church.” The church is managed by12 priests from the Spanish Center of Advanced Ecclesiastical Studies who investigate the history of Spain?s Catholicism. Thanks to them, Spaniards who live in Rome can attend Mass in their language while learning more about the history of their country. CB/KLHAM JM -BN