Monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and de Suso (World Heritage)

By | August 25, 2021

According to neovideogames, the history of the monastery complex dates back to the 6th century when the hermit Millán lived here. The Suso monastery was built on the site of his grave in 984. It is of Visigoth origin with Mozarabic and Romanesque style elements and one of the oldest monasteries in Spain. Below Suso, the Yuso monastery was built in the Romanesque style in the 11th century. Its facade was redesigned in the baroque era. The library of the monastery has precious manuscripts and parchments that clearly show the beginnings of the Castilian language. It is therefore considered the birthplace of the Spanish language. Today the former Benedictine monastery is managed by Augustinians.

Monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and de Suso: facts

Official title: Monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and de Suso
Cultural monument: Monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and San Millán de Suso, located south of the Camino de Santiago to Santiago de Compostela; Storage place of the bones of St. Millán, a shepherd who lived as a hermit in the solitude of the Disterdo Mountains in the 6th century
Continent: Europe
Country: Spain
Location: San Millán de Yuso and San Millán de Suso, southwest of Nájera, south of Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Appointment: 1997
Meaning: Birthplace of the use of the Castilian (Spanish) language and a place of spiritual life for centuries

Monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and de Suso: history

473-574 San Millán
around 550 Construction of the first monastery building in Suso
1001 The monastery of San Millán de Suso was sacked by Moorish soldiers
around 1045-54 under King García Sánchez III. Foundation of the San Millán de Yuso monastery
1067 Completion of the Emilianus or Millán shrine with the bones of St. Millán
1650 Completion of the Baroque facade of the San Millán de Yuso Monastery
1665 Establishment of a library in the monastery of San Millán de Yuso
1809 Looting by soldiers of Napoleon I.
1845 Abandonment of the monastery of San Millán de Yuso by the Benedictines
1878 Augustinian monks take over the monastery of San Millán de Yuso

The cradle of the Spanish language

The small, wiry man threatens to break under the weight of the hymnal. But Padre Alfonso, one of the last Augustinians in the monastery at Yuso, shows strength. As a guide through “his monastery” it does not occur to him to ignore weighty details – and lifts the tome, which weighs over a hundredweight, to put it back on the shelf. Religious from bygone days found it more difficult to bear this script. For them it was down the stairs to the church; their “heavy” steps have literally hollowed out the stone steps.

Yuso’s clerical estate is based on a hermit who came from the area, who reached a biblical age and who gave the neighboring town his name: the later San Millán de la Cogolla tended sheep in his youth before he lived with the hermit Felices near today’s wine town Haro went into “Christian teaching”. After a while he returned to his home region and gave himself up entirely to asceticism in the mountains. As a priest in his native village Berceo, according to local sources, he is said to have “scattered miracles like the Bread of Mercy” and with his generosity incurred the wrath of his fellow ministers. But the pious man, repeatedly attacked, immediately withdrew into the solitude of the Sierra. However, he did not stay alone for long, as his reputation attracted numerous students, with whom he founded the mountain monastery of Suso around 550. Over time, this monastery has become an important refuge of art and science. When San Millán died in old age, his bones were also buried there. And his grave was an important pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages.

The Monasterio de Suso, an inconspicuous, small monastery, directly connected to rock caves and surrounded by forests, has been lying idle not just since yesterday. Deep in the valley, within sight of Suso, King García Sánchez III of Navarre founded. In the middle of the 11th century a new, much larger complex, into which Millán’s remains were transferred: the Monasterio de Yuso. Thanks to the nearby Way of St. James and the crowds of pilgrims on the way to the tomb of the Apostles in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, religious life flourished in the course of the Middle Ages.

Copies of Bibles and law books go back to the monastery scribes. And at a point in time that has not yet been precisely clarified, a monk was brooding over an old Latin source, the “Codex Aemilianensis 60”, and had serious problems understanding it at work. The language seemed dusty to him, and he added marginal notes, the so-called “Glosas emilianenses”, which testify to the uncertainty in dealing with individual expressions. But with these comments he made history, as these are the first known testimonies of today’s Spanish. Not immodest, but for good reason the town of San Millán de la Cogolla is called “Cuna del castellano”, the “cradle of the Spanish language” – which does not rule out that similar births may have occurred elsewhere.

In the 16th century, the Benedictines decided to give Yuso a new robe. This explains the lack of traces of Romanesque building history. But the memories of San Millán have been preserved everywhere, whether in the painted arches with scenes from his life in the upper cloister or in the relief on the entrance facade with the saint as a Moors slayer on horseback. With Padre Alfonso at hand, one penetrates into the Holy of Holies, the Chapel of San Millán. Immediately disillusionment spreads: a squat room, modern and faceless. That the padre puts on a mischievous smile bodes well. He leads the visitors to the showcase with the reliquary of San Millán – a true marvel of medieval ivory carving. “And everything is original,” says Padre Alfonso.

Monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and de Suso (World Heritage)