Church of Santa Isabel and San Cayetano in Zaragoza

Church of Santa Isabel and San Cayetano in Zaragoza
Church of Santa Isabel and San Cayetano in Zaragoza

In the 17th century, specifically in 1678, the deputies of the kingdom of Aragon decided to appoint Santa Isabel de Portugal as patron saint of Aragon. The link between this saint and this territory of Spain was due to the fact that the capital of the kingdom had been born, in Zaragoza. Something that happened in the Aljafería Castle. However, just as marriages and marital unions were carried out between roy alty and aristocracy in theMiddle Ages, as a child she went to live in Portugal since she was handcuffed to theKing Dionys. And in Portuguese lands is where she carried out a life of piety and kindness that ended up taking her to the altars.


Facade of the church of Santa Isabel and San Cayetano in Zaragoza

So over the centuries,Aragónmade her her patron saint and the same members of the Diputación ordered the construction of a temple in her honor. Once built, it was entrusted to the Theatine monks, followers of San Cayetano, hence the double title of this church in Zaragoza.

This is a construction that takes us back to the final years of the Baroque, something that is reflected in its façade, since the whole of it is conceived as an immense sculptural altarpiece. But in this case the great protagonist of this stone altarpiece is not a saint, although there are obviously figures of them scattered around, but rather the leitmotiv that organizesthis decoration is the shield of Aragon.

This coat of arms appears in its entirety in the central row of the façade, above the main door. But in the other four lateral bands they are dedicated to showing the barracks that form this shield. And these motifs are: the Tree of Sobrarbe, the Cross of Íñigo Arista, the four red bars on a yellow background, and the Cross of the Battle of Alcoraz with four Moorish heads. All of them are motifs linked to the origins and development of the Kingdom of Aragon.

That is to say, when this church was built it had a clearly nationalist connotation, and the deputies were so proud of it, that they had their names appear on different tombstones scattered around the façade.

And the symbols linked to the history of Aragon also continue inside. Because if the entire temple is dedicated to the patron saint, the Aragonese patron saint appears in the main altarpiece. And that is none other than Saint George slaying the dragon. In short, we are facing a clear manifestation of the many links that sometimes unite religion, politics, art and propaganda. This is not an impediment for the church to be a prodigious example of Baroque architecture and sculpture in the city of Zaragoza.

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