Architecture, Archaeology and Liturgy in the Rupestrian Monastery of St. Pedro de Rocas (Galicia, Spain)
Ein Vortrag von Dr. Jorge Lopez Quiroga und Dr. Natalia Figueiras Pimentel (Madrid)
St Pedro of Rocas is one of the emblematic places of the so-called Ribeira Sacra territory (in Galicia, north-west of the Iberian Peninsula), a rupestrian hermitage carved in the rock whose origin goes back to the 6th century, extended during the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, and later transformed into a Benedictine monastery adapted to the needs demanded by the coenobitic life in the 12th century.
St. Pedro of Rocas is in its first phase an architectural complex known as lavra, consist of a large area with defined spaces, cells and access zones that make up the housing area as well as a church, the ecclesia with liturgical and devotional function and an area destined for burials. Belonging to this first phase of the complex we have documented very singular architectural elements as: hagioscopes for liturgical use, funerary chapels and arcosolia with a devotional and memorial character, cells cut and carved in the rock with a specific technology and a set of utilitarian and symbolic elements (such as channels, silos, stairs, passage areas, access terraces and platforms). A unique element in St Pedro of Rocas is presence of a funerary mural painting with the representation of a mapamundi, located in one of the funerary paraecclesiae.
In St Pedro of Rocas we are facing a Late Antique and Early Medieval architecture that is characterized by the combination of cut and carved rock with wooden structures that are directly set up on the stone. The worship place a single-nave ecclesia, with two funeral chapels (paraecclesiae) on both sides, communicated by small corridors carved into the rock closed today The ecclesia is distributed in three spaces: a kind of narthex, a presbytery-choir, and a sanctuary, all separated by wooden structures (gates and iconostases). The precise study of the light, the exact orientation of the construction and the design of the space based on the acoustics and the visibility of the interior of the ecclesia and paraecclesiae, make the rupestrian complex a place completely organized, planned and executed by master builders.
We consider that St. Pedro of Rocas is an example of a Byzantine influence (direct or indirect), probably also existing in other rupestrian worship spaces in the Iberian Peninsula, visible in an architecture determined by a liturgy of Eastern origin.