Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (Video)

The town of Guadalupe in the Cáceres province of Extremadura, Spain, is home to the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was Spain's most important monastery for more than 400 years.

The monastery's history began in the early fourteenth century when a shepherd named Gil Cordero discovered an ancient statue of the Madonna on a bank of the Guadalupe River. According to legend, the statue had appeared centuries before near the body of St. Luke and eventually ended up in Seville, where it had remained until 714, when the local inhabitants hid it next to the Guadalupe River to protect it from Muslim invaders. After Cordero found it, a shrine was created.

King Alfonso XI of Castile visited the shrine in 1337. He is said to have invoked Santa María de Guadalupe in the 1340 Battle of Rio Salado against Muslim Marinids, and he attributed his victory there to the Madonna's intercession. He then declared the shrine as a royal sanctuary and established the monastery. 

In 1389 the monastery became the principal house of Hieronymite monks, and order's first prior continued its construction. In 1474 Henry IV of Castile was entombed there next to his mother, María of Aragon.

The monastery's influence reached the Americas, where Our Lady of Guadalupe is highly revered in the Mexican Basilica of Guadalupe and elsewhere. Christopher Columbus had visited the monastery in 1486, when he accompanied Ferdinand and Isabella there in an attempt to convince them to finance his expedition to the Indies, and he was impressed by queen's devotion. In 1492 Queen Isabella again went to the monastery to give thanks for the surrender of Granada. From there, two letters were dispatched ordering two ships for Columbus. The explorer entrusted himself to the Virgin of Guadalupe during his first journey and gave the name to a Caribbean island he encountered. After returning from that voyage, he once again visited the monastery in gratitude and baptized two Indians he had brought with him.

Even after the monks from Guadalupe founded the monastery of Escorial, which is much closer to Madrid, Spain's royals remained devoted to Santa María de Guadalupe. It continued to be the most important cloister in Spain until the secularization of monasteries in 1835. In the 20th century, the Franciscan Order revived the monastery, and Pope Pius XII declared it a "Minor Papal Basilica" in 1955. The shrine of the Virgin, in Baroque style, contains paintings by Luca Giordano. Francisco de Zurbarán paintings also stand out, still in their original locations.

Day Footage – May 2010, Sept. 6 & 8-9, 2010
Interior and Exterior 
Videographer – Dr. Gary Keller, Santiago Moratto and Brandon Ortega