San Andrés de Teixido

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Santo André de Teixido (San Andrés de Teixido in Spanish) is the official name of a small village from the municipality of Cedeira, in the Serra da Capelada ( a mountain chain located in the province of A Coruña, in Galicia) which is near the cliffs . According to the National Institute of Statistics, in 2007, there were 49 inhabitants (29 men and 20 women). There is a sanctuary also called San Andrés de Teixido, which is a famous pilgrimage site. The Galician toponym Teixido means a place with abundant yew trees (“teixo” in Galician).

The Pilgrimage[edit]

The Santo André (En: Saint Andrew) Chapel is a famous sanctuary where, according to the popular saying “vai de morto quen non foi de vivo,” those who do not visit while they are alive, will visit in another form once they are dead.

In the area surrounding Santo André, along the sides of the paths leading down to the sanctuary, there are more than half a dozen milladoiros (referred to as amilladoiros in the Cedeira region) - some of which are kept in perfect condition. These consist of a pile of small stones that are left in certain locations such as near sanctuaries, crossroads and sacred places. This tradition is still practiced by the pilgrims who go to the Santo André sanctuary, as shown by the extraordinary milladoiro that is located in O Campo do Choíño (Choíño Field) in the so-called Costa Pequeña (Small Coast). It is possible that ones at the Santo André Chapel, made of thousands of stones that pilgrims have been placing over centuries, are the only ones in the world like that. Between the villages of Veniño and Teixido there are up to twenty milladoiros. Legend has it that the stones of the milladoiros, “will speak at the Last Judgement” and will reveal which souls fulfilled the promise of going on the pilgrimage to Santo André. It is believed that the pilgrimage to Teixido dates back to the Iron Age, (during the height of the Castro culture). However, the first recorded pilgrimage appears in the will of a dying woman from Viveiro in the year 1391, who stated (originally in old Galician): Iten mando yr por min en romaria a Santo Andre de Teixido, porque llo tenno prometudo, et que le ponnan enno seu altar hua candea commo he hua muller de meu estado.

Translated as, ‘Go on my behalf on a pilgrimage to Santo André because I have promised to do so, and place a candle the size of a woman of my standing on the altar.’

Further south in the Cotobade region, the Milky Way is known as “Camiño de Santo André” (Saint Andrew’s way) and it is said that it ends at a point above the chapel.

The Church[edit]

The structure of the church is a Gothic temple with maritime influences. The oldest conserved element of the Gothic era is the pointed ogee arch.

The oldest parts such as the apse, which was initially vaulted, date back to the Andrade Age. The side door, consisting of an Isabelline style pointed arch, (typical of the late Gothic period) most likely served as the main door of the sanctuary from the 15th - 18th Century. This style is complemented by the construction of a new facade and bell tower, completed in 1781 as a result of increased donations due to the vast number of pilgrims during this period. The main chapel dates back to 1789 and was designed by Miguel López de la Peña. In 1970, murals of the martyrdom of Saint Andrew were discovered.

Customs and legends[edit]

During lifetime, it is tradition to make the pilgrimage carrying a stone and to put it on one of the “amilladoiros” (a kind of cairns) of the area. Then, devotees have to drink from “The Fountain of the Three Spouts” (“La Fuente de los Tres Caños” in Spanish and “A Fonte dos Tres Canos” in Gali-cian), ask Saint Andrew for a wish and throw bread crumbs into the water. If the bread doesn’t sink, it will bring good fortune to their lives (for at least one year).

The soul of the deceased carried by relatives[edit]

The one who devoted himself to Saint Andrew but failed to go there in his lifetime has to complete his mission when dead. For this to be achieved, living relatives or acquaintances (normally two people) accompany the soul of the passed away along the pilgrimage. Before setting out, the relatives go to the cemetery where the tomb of the departed rests, in order to invite his spirit to join them.

The bread of Saint Andrew[edit]

As a symbol of pilgrimage, “sanandresiños” are made with breadcrumbs. Initially there were 3 fig-ures: a man, a woman and a dove. Nowadays they are five :

  • The hand: asks for love, good company and friendship.
  • The fish : for work and sustenance
  • Rowboat: for journeys, house and business.
  • The Saint: for physical and mental health and peaceful cohabitation.
  • The pansy: for studies, tests and good sense. It is very effective against envy and curse.

The Fountain of the Three Spouts[edit]

People asked the fountain of the three spouts, whether Saint Andrew would make their wish come true or not. That is why people made a wish or a petition to Saint Andrew first, and then drank the water from the fountain. After that, they threw a breadcrumb. If it did float it was because the saint would listen to their wishes while if it didn’t, there was no hope. According to another version, if it floated, the wish maker should return to San Andrés.

The sea thrift[edit]

The sea thrift (Armeria Pubigera), herba de namorar in Galician, grows in the surroundings of Teixido. It is said that it’s good for solving love problems.

The bouquet[edit]

Another tradition consists in returning from the pilgrimage with the bouquet of Saint Andrew. It is made out of a hazel stick, to which various sprigs of yew are tied. The sea thrift can also be added to the bouquet.