Spanish version

San Antonio de los Alemanes Church

San Antonio de los Alemanes ChurchThis church is located at calle de la Puebla in the area of Malasaña.
In the XVII century King Felipe III founded a hospital for Portuguese people living in Madrid. It was a time when many Portuguese came to Madrid looking for work as Portugal belonged to the Spanish kingdom. In this area were many convents dedicated to help these people, as well as hospitals founded by rich Spaniards that took care of them. Next to the hospital King Felipe IV founded a church to offer the Portuguese immigrants a place of shelter. But in 1640 Portugal got independent from the Kingdom of Spain and in 1689 Mariana de Austria, King Felipe IV´s wife, decided to donate it to the Germans that came to Madrid. Again it would be a place of shelter for them and also a way  to convert the heretic. Since then the church has been known as San Antonio de los Alemanes.
King Felipe V gave the administration of the church to the Hermandad del Refugio (Refuge Brotherhood), that still manages it today.This brotherhood looks after the poor oferring food and a place to sleep. They also have a school next to the church for nearly 400 children. This brotherhood was known as "La Ronda del pan y el huevo", the bread and egg patrol. At dusk a priest with two members of the brotherhood and several servants went to look for tramps to whom they offered some bread, water and a hard boiled egg. They had a wooden of tool with holes. If the egg went through the hole it was rejected as too small.  This was the origin of the sentence: Si pasa, no pasa. If it goes through, it won´t do.

The church was built by Francisco Seseña although the façade was made by Juan Gomez de Mora. Its interior is amazing, with beautiful frescos by Luca Giordano, Francisco Carreño and Francisco Ricci. It is built in barock style. In the interior the church has only one nave with a splendid  vault. There are no columns or pilars. The idea is to present a single space, with no divisions and attract the visitor to the frescos surrounding him or her and end up looking at the paintings dedicated to Saint Antonio in the vault.
San Antonio de los Alemanes ChurchThe paintings represent Spanish, Hungarian, German, Bohemian and French kings. All sitting and looking at the paintings on the vault. All of them lived in the Middle Ages and were known for their religiousness or their wars against the enemies of the catholic religion.
In 1972 the church was declared National Monument.
The church is dedicated to Saint Antonio of Padua. Saint Antonio was born in Portugal in 1198. He became a Franciscan monk and was very popular among the christian people in Italy due to his sermons.He died in Padua. He is usually represented with Jesus child in his arms or with a book or a lily in his hand. He is the saint patron of the poor. Many people believe that he helps you to find lost things. He is buried in Padua,Italy.

It is difficult to visit the church as it is only open during mass, but the experience is worth the effort.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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