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Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain: The Tomb of Saint Dominic of Silos and The Monks singing the famous Benedictine Chant


About Santo Domingo de Silos:

The small village of Santo Domingo de Silos is in the southern part of Burgos Province in northern Spain. It is located in the Ribera de Burgos wine country dotted with picturesque Spanish villages.

The Monastery is believed to have originated in the seventh century under the name of the Monastery of Saint Sebastian, although documents show that it was founded in founding was in 929 AD

About Saint Dominic of Silos:

At a young age, Dominic joined the monastery of San Millan la Cogolla and became a Benedictine monk. Dominic was ordained a priest and then appointed the Master of Novices. Soon he was named Prior.  As Prior in the monastery, Dominic came into conflict with the King of Navarre over lands surrounding the monastery. The king insisted these lands belonged to him, but Dominic opposed the “land-grab.” The king drove Dominic and the other monks out of the monastery, and they were forced to flee the area. They eventually settled in Castile.

In 1041 Dominic and his small group of followers settled in Silos. When King Ferdinand I of Leon heard of Dominic’s arrival, he placed him and his followers under his protection and allowed them to move into the Abbey of St. Sebastian.

The monastery was in a state of decay, both physically…and more importantly, spiritually.  Dominic was named Abbot by the king and was placed in charge of the monastery.  He set out to restore the physical presence of the monastery but also the spiritual lives of the monks. Dominic and the other monks (in the beginning there were six) immediately got busy refurbishing the monastery.

Under Dominic’s leadership, the cloisters were rebuilt and a scriptorium (a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts commonly handled by monastic scribes) was added. This addition turned the monastery into a place of learning and knowledge.

There was a gold and silversmith shop added and this brought in needed funds to help the monks in their charitable works. He preserved the Mozarabic Rite (a variant of the Latin rite), and the monastery became one of the centers of the Mozarabic liturgy. Within the walls of the monastery, work also moved forward in the preservation of the Visigoth script of ancient Spain.

Lastly, Dominic was dedicated to ransoming Christians from the Moors. He solicited donations from the wealthy, and Dominic was personally instrumental in freeing more than 300 prisoners.

At the time of Dominic’s death on December 20, 1073, the monastery had been turned into a center for scholarship, learning, and liturgical preservation but also a place of rescue and safety. The number of monks active in the monastery had grown from six to 40.

Nearby is the village and the Dominican monastery/school of Caleruega, the birthplace of the founder of the Dominican order, Santo Domingo de Guzman, in the 12th century.

In fact, tradition tells us that Saint Dominic de Guzman was actually named after Saint Dominic of Silos. The story says that his mother came to the monastery to pray at the tomb of Saint Dominic of Silos, praying that she be able to conceive a child. She bore a male son and named him Dominic.

The 11th century two-story cloister retains its original beauty and is open to the public. The name Silos comes from the many windmills attached to silos on the nearby farms.

The Benedictine Monks of the Abbey here are world famous for their Gregorian chant as evidenced by their hit CD’s which became immensely popular in the 1990’s after the release of their first album, “Chant”.

Try to attend vespers in the evening listening to the chant by the monks. Their CD recordings are available worldwide but to actually be here is something you will never forget.

Traveling to Santo Domingo de Silos:

Santo Domingo de Silos is about 40 miles (70 Km) Southeast of Burgos. It is included in some group tours of Spain, otherwise you will have to reach it on your own by bus or car. There is no train service.

On our previous visits we have stayed in one of the few hotels in town, which are clean and decent without being over-priced. The Monastery is the town’s main attraction so do not expect anything much other than that, but that alone is enough!

Address: Calle Santo Domingo, 2, 09610 Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos, Spain

GPS coordinates: 41° 57′ 42.8580” N, 3° 25′ 9.6456” W

Click here for the official website of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos.

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