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Major Seminary of Compostela in San Martiño

The monastery of San Martiño Pinario: Seat of institutions

Today, the monastery of San Martiño Pinario is one of the most emblematic buildings in Santiago de Compostela. This Benedictine abbey has its origins in the Inventio, with the discovery of the remains of the apostle Saint James (820-830) and has undergone major transformations over time.

In the 19th century, around 150 monks lived within its walls. Its bibliographic collection, the church and the apothecary’s shop were a religious and cultural reference point throughout Compostela and Galicia as well as beyond its borders.

However, in 1835, with the Confiscation of Mendizábal, the state took away the church and religious orders’ properties and put them up for auction. Following this measure, the Benedictines abandoned the monastery, and a period of deterioration and disappearance of the accumulated wealth began.

The expropriation was a long process, but the deterioration of the abbey of San Martiño Pinario was rapid. Hundreds of people approached the monastery to raid it and get part of the monks’ gold.

Four years after the confiscation, the building was converted into a series of dwellings for military families. In 1846, the Guadalajara Barracks moved into the building and shortly afterwards, the Zamora Regiment’s flag room was added. The town council of Santiago itself requested part of the space to hold a ball in honour of Queen María Cristina de Borbón.

An open institution

To face the looting and occupation, a group of 355 neighbours turned to the municipal government to ask for the protection of some of the works of art that the monastery and the church housed. As a result, the baroque style altars of the church are still preserved.

When García Cuesta was appointed Archbishop of Compostela, he proposed that the monastery of San Martiño should become the seat of the Seminary of Compostela. The idea was supported, and when the archbishop visited the building, he found it in a state of disrepair. There were no doors or windows, and the walls were black.

San Martiño Pinario, seat of the Major Seminary.

San Martiño Pinario, seat of the Major Seminary.

García Cuesta ordered its remodelling, and it was inaugurated as the new headquarters of the Seminary. The support of the archbishop’s successors made it possible to maintain the building, which in 1897 became the Pontifical University.

Over the years, it underwent several extensions, and in 1956 an adjoining Minor Seminary was built due to the increase in the number of students. In 1981, the Centre for Church Studies housed the Compostela Institute of Theology, and three years later, the library was remodelled.

Its growth was such that it is the institution under which all the others are understood. Currently, the building houses the Instituto Teológico Compostelano. However, it is also the headquarters of the University School of Social Work.

Its old premises house the Diocesan Historical Archive of Compostela, as well as the Diocesan Historical Museum. Nowadays, San Martiño Pinario is an institution open to the city of Compostela and the worship of the Jacobean tradition.

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