Leon, Spain: “The Legionnaires’ Town” & Cathedral of San Isidoro
The city of Leon was once home to Roman legionnaires, and then went on to become a major center of Christian Spain, but later lost influence when it merged with Castile. It remains a great city to visit and is also a stopping point on the Pilgrim Route to Santiago de Compostela.
About the Cathedral of Leon:
The Cathedral here is built in the Gothic style, more reminiscent of France than of Spain. Its stained glass windows are magnificent as well as some of the murals on the walls. It also houses the tomb of one the Doctors of the Church: Saint Isidoro (or Saint Isidore as he is commonly know in English-speaking countries).
The Basilica of San Isidoro and story of Saint Isidoro (Saint Isidore):
Saint Isidoro lived in the 7th Century, and as Bishop of Seville was instrumental in eliminating the Arian heresy in the Visigoth region. He ordered seminaries built and founded schools throughout his diocese and wrote many books, including a history of the world. He was proclaimed a Saint in 1598, and his feast day is April 4.
Interestingly, probably because of his encyclopedic knowledge, he was declared patron saint of the internet, computers and computer users by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
So next time you are in over your head, say a quick prayer to Saint Isidore!
Also of interest is Isidore’s sister, Florentina, who is also a saint. She was a nun in Rome and eventually had forty convents and one thousand religious under her.
The Basilica is actually in two parts: the first is the Basilica itself and the second is the Museum, which contains the Royal Pantheon, or “Pantheon of the Kings”, known for its magnificent frescoes as well as the burial crypts of many of the Kings of Leon. Admission is free to the Basilica, but we encourage you to pay the small admission fee of 5 Euros for the Museum, which contains items well worth the visit.
Among the items in the museum are: the Ark of the Ivories, the Limoges Casket, and the Chalic Urraca. The latter has gained great notoriety of late due to the release of a book entitled “Kings of the Grail”, by Margarita Torres and Jose Ortiza del Rio, that puts forth rather convincing evidence that this is the Holy Grail, the chalice use by Our Lord at the Last Supper. Until now, another city in Spain, Valencia, has claimed to possess the Holy Grail.
Be sure to take note of the hours, it is usually closed for siesta from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.
Traveling to the Basilica of Saint Isidore:
Address: Plaza de San Isidoro, 4, 24003 León Spain
GPS coordinates: 42° 36′ 0.8604” N, 5° 34′ 15.7620” W
Tel: +34 985 84 60 16
Click here for the official website of the Basilica of San Isidoro in Leon. (in Spanish, click top of page for English)