Translation from the catalan text of the speech presented by Josep-Maria Nogués i Torre to the VII Pyrenean Cultural Meetings "The Pyrenees 1,000 years: visions of the future" held in Seu d'Urgell the 23.10.2010.
Before discussing about the past of the venerable ruins of the defunct Benedictine Abbey of Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnoles and project our particular vision on what remains of the monastery, we must first talk about the pilgrimage route[i] passing through Anserall and that, somehow, he conditioned and regulated development of St. Saturnin as the center which was the birthplace of Pyrenean monasticism.
So, we say that the main focus of the pilgrimage route was the main trunk from Perpignan, for Puigcerdà and La Seu d'Urgell was the Segre down and before the Christian conquest of Balaguer, by Nargó reseguía to Bóixols to Isona, Tremp and Ager and places to go to find the road to Santiago coming from Huesca.[ii]
We can therefore speak of the pilgrimage route in the valley of the Valira, also called once and in the first part as Andorran road to Santiago. This is the old road that ran by the principality of Andorra and current coming from the city of Foix: FOIX → PAS DE LA CASA → ENCAMP → RANSOL (Canillo) → ESCALDES → ANDORRA LA VELLA → SAN JULIÀ DE LÒRIA → La borda de Canturri → LA FARGA DE MOLES (Saint Michael of Ponts church) → RIGHT OF VALIRA RIVER (Cabanelles → Route to Civís and Cortingles) → Sant Serni de Tavèrnoles → ANSERALL → Parrota path → SANT ESTEVE DEL PONT → SEU D’ URGELL and CASTELLCIUTAT (more or less below the Solsona Tower) → and connection to the main trunk of the Camino de Santiago del Segre → followed by the Segre river ...We know that some sections have disappeared by landslides and also by different irrigation works.
The origin of the monastery dedicated to San Sadurní of Tavèrnoles is of uncertain date. Some attribute it to Saint Eudald no evidence, however. Probably already it existed in the second half of the VIII century and was an Episcopal monastery that is, created by the diocesan ordinary where, often, the bishop occupied the abbacy.
We mentioned that the communities of the monasteries of Visigoth church governed by the pactum which was an agreement or arrangement between the monastic community and the new abbot elected and that this position was for life and therefore you could not modify the pactum or rules monastic established until the death of the abbot who signed it.
+ The origin of the name - we can say, however, that the current patronymic is derived from ancient words of Occitan origin as Serenin, Sernin, Cernin,Fermin and, according to legend, in the sixth century, the Duke Leunebald of Tolosa does build on his tomb a church dedicated to Saint-Sernin-du-Tour (Occitan word for bull, since he was martyred using this kind of animal). The legend also says that San Fermin, patron saint of Pamplona/Iruña, the capital of Navarre, was baptized by him in a site of this town still known as "the Pocico of San Cernin". This name responds to an old part of the city of Pamplona said the San Serenin Burgo or Burgo de San Cernin or where the church of San Saturnino in Pamplona, also known as San Cernin. We present equivalence Sant Serni[iii] =Sant Sadurní =St. Saturnin is therefore clear.
It is believed that the name derives from Tavèrnoles as Tabernulae Latin word or Tabernula (tent, awning or tent) for existence in this place more than a tavern; that is, a place where you could make some kind of accommodation, service posts to replace horses and other services to passersby. Also a hospital as it was then understood: a resting place for pilgrims, sick or not. It is, therefore, was located in a strategic place over royal road that connected the valleys of Andorra with the plain of Seu d'Urgell and from this place as a crossroads to Cerdagne and low Urgell. The existence of this site services, as currently define it, it was complemented by the existence of a Christian place of worship possibly located an ancient pagan place long ago converted to the Catholic faith. And, as already it mentioned, also as core hosting pilgrims coming and going by the Andorran road to Santiago de Compostela. Anyway, the word on Tavèrnoles, we must keep in mind that it is not verifiable hypotheses as the first occurrence documented this name (Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnoles) is continuously towards 1259, although the minutes of 1040 consecration already cited (Tavèrnoles) and also long before (June 6, 970).
We know from the early days of the monastery because of the complications of Feliciana heresy that the Bishop of Urgell and Tavèrnoles Abbot Felix (or Feliu) with Elipandus, presiding bishop of the Visigoth church, preaching. It was an old theological belief that adoptionism that is now almost extinct in part, where it is maintained that Jesus Christ was an adopted son of God, probably with the intention of reaching a kind of unification with Islam ... Charlemagne disagreed and thus was a reason for its intervention; after two councils, the confrontation with Alcuin of York, Feliu is deposed and jailed 799.
A commission formed by the executors of Charlemagne –Leideradus from Lion, Nebridius from Narbonne, Benedict from Aniana-, takes care of the bishop, the bishopric and monastery. Shortly thereafter, he becomes Possedonius new bishop and abbot.
+ San Sadurní of Tavèrnoles and the new rule of St. Benedict: Although there is no documented certainty, there is reason to believe that a major reform tasks Benedict of Aniana promoted on their stay in the Urgell county was the main monastery the area adopted the Benedictine monastic rule; and that this change was applied considering the pactum which governed until then had expired at being deposed Feliu also as abbot of Tavèrnoles. Nor is there evidence base to tell us how the action took place while one of the usual ways of acting was "repopulate" the monastery with Benedictine monks francs newcomers and the subsequent absorption and conversion of the previous Visigoth monks who they accept with the subsequent election of abbot naturally frank origin.
At 815 they received several donations from the Counts of Urgell and Cerdanya. They founded the monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres (Osona) and San Salvador de la Vedella (in Berguedà). We know from the incorporation of St. Saturnin to the rule of St. Benedict the imperial precept issued by Louis the Pious in 835 in favor of the second of these two just cited and which clearly states that it was founded by the Benedictine abbot Calort monasteries. In the year 1019, passed under his tutelage the monastery of San Lorenzo de Morunys with the appointment by the Bishop of Urgell San Ermengol, the same abbot for both monasteries. In its heyday in the eleventh century, the possessions of the monastery extended from Berguedà to Andorra, passing through Pallars Jussà and Cerdanya. He also had possessions in Castile and Aragon.
A new church was consecrated on 17 January 1040 by Eriball bishop of Urgell and Arnulf of Ribagorza. It was consecrated in honor of the Virgin and the saints Michael and Saturnin. His time was abbot Guillermo and the consecration ceremony was attended by various personalities of the time like the counts of Urgell, the archbishops of Narbonne and Arles, the bishops of Elna, Béziers, Girona and Toulouse. In the consecration document also contained the possessions of the monastery and reference to the Benedictine order followed by the monks ago.
In 1099 Pope Urban II granted the monastery one Bula of immunity. The splendor of Sant Sadurní lasted until the thirteenth century.
Brief recap of the territorial expansion of SST:
1. Erection of new priories and recovery of old cells into disuse since the time Possedonius.
2. (21 March 914): Union of monasteries and churches of Satn Vicent d’Isona, Sant Martí d’Albet, Sant Martí de Bescaran, Sant Esteve d’Umfret, Sant Sadurní Aganense, St. Jaume d’Engordany and St. Andreu de Castellbò (or Tresponts) in the past instituted under the Benedictine rule and now in ruins; with their freeholds, tithes and first fruits, parishes and underlying villas, made by the bishops of Urgell and Nantigís and Adolf and Seniofred Count of Urgell the monastery and its abbot Baldric of Tavèrnoles.
3. Extends the Cerdanya (St. Pere de Ger) and Berguedà; to Andorra[iv] and Tresponts to Nargó and via Bòixols to Llordà, Isona and Tremp basin before the conquest of Balaguer, protecting and covering the Jacobean way mentioned at the beginning.
The great strength of the abbey demonstrates to build the second church of the monastery and the many personalities that were his consecration on 17/01/1040 already cited.
It was a great religious center of economic development with great consistency. Considered sufficient resources instead of Latin jurisprudence and drafting legal documents too. Among other actions, also he participated in the financing--through conquest of Balaguer, in the late eleventh century. In return, he received possession of dependent mosques of Avimoni to build a new church dedicated to San Sadurní[v].
The evangelizing action and repopulation of the monks of SST and its influence in the territories that were the Urgell County is evident by the frequent pattern names that have many churches. We quote some, following the pilgrimage route linking and inter-county Nargó and Tremp with Isona: GAVARRA (Alt Urgell, road Bóixols) and exceeded Isona, CONQUES (the castle church almost disappeared and the same completely), Suterranya (parish) SANT SERNI (the town itself and its parish).
As we said before, it was submitted only a monastery in Rome; i.e. without depending on the ordinary territorial. Years later, by an agreement in the time of Bishop Abril, the monastery accepts that ordinary name to the rectors of the parishes and churches owned by SST.
THE DECLINE: The process of economic and monastic decadence of the monastery begins during the course of the fourteenth century and is due to different factors: the transfer of the capital of the county of Urgell to Balaguer based; the loss of its main benefactors with the extinction of the counts of Urgell frontline to die Ermengol VIII in 1208 as the Cabrera, his successors ignore monastery who do not do any donation; the Counts of Foix, Viscount of Castellbò, either make new contributions him despite maintaining a monastery with more than right relationships often subject to their particular interests and personal ambitions, perhaps induced by the quarrels related to the Cathar question.
Other structural causes reflect the fact the geographical location of the monastery; its isolation in the past, had benefited him now backfires.
Moreover, epidemics, civil wars and banditry also helped increase its decline. You remember that the Black Death bubonic plague, also said in late 1347 began with devastating effects.
Towards the end of the fourteenth century, a major earthquake shook the valleys and possibly do damage to the round tower of the monastery, according to some authors, was the model for the construction of Santa Coloma of Andorra.
Mention one of the last abbots chosen by the chapter: Antonio (1388-1391) native of Besalú - (according appointments pseudo cardinal Berenguer d’Anglesola, bishop of Girona.) He and the lawyer Pere de Rovira took the spoils of St. Saturnin St. Vincent Martyr Church to Besalú.
The monastery also accentuated decline due to other factors:
+ The fragmentation of the abbey rents according to the different sectors or guardian: sexton, beggar, waiter, etc. Thus the unit control box and broke.
+ The creation of the charge: system whereby key positions, such as Abbot, were given to people outside the monastery and the acquired in exchange for a contribution. Actually they bought the monastery future income in exchange for care of the livelihood of the monks and the functioning of the monastery by an administrator on behalf of the commendatory abbot.[vi] In the case of SST, none of the commendatory abbots were secular and few acted goodly and most did not bother the monastic rule.
+ The wars and banditry: (04/03/1476) The visitors of the Benedictine province of Tarragona and Zaragoza waive personally visit the monasteries of Sant Pere de la Portella, Sant Llorenç near Bagà and Sant Sadurní due to Tavèrnoles war and poverty, and delegate, to carry it out, the monk Jaume Albert from Ripoll monastery. This makes the visitor a letter apologizing Nicholas de Llor of failing to fulfill the order received on behalf visiting the monastery of Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnoles, because of the war (15.04.1476).
The minutes of the visitation for the year 1479 the inspector Luis de Claramunt, abbot of St. Mary of Serrateix says there is only a bell and danger of collapse.
Juan de Chiverri, abbot or SST administrator, along with Fray Bartolome de San Roman, sacristan, and Fray Juan Bizar, monks of the monastery, being in the house where they live Seo de Urgel, assigned by the bishop (since the monastery was occupied by bandits and bad people = Huguenots), and be difficult for them to access the monastery, celebrated chapter ... (22.02.1518).
The last commendatory was Onofre Ferrer, Ripoll monk from 1569-1584.
Already in the last visitation of 1584 he explained that the bandits since last September here, came twenty bandits when found neglected and were masters of the monastery, but soon after, the tocsin of Seu d’Urgell got up and fled. .. Local authorities also believe that the inhabitants of the monastery act properly and risk their lives.
He was with the vacancy SST Abbey between 1584 and 1592 year in which the bull of Clement VIII declared dated 13/08/1592 the final closure of the monastery.
Everything is finished. From now on, what was the Benedictine monastery of Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnoles, there will be only, like an old housing, the monastic buildings, silent witnesses of a glory forever extinguished. And not only he was stripped of everything that was proper on earth, but also everything that was precious kept; tally was like a wind dispersion took everything in its path.
+ FUTURE PROJECTS: What do we want and we can do? Many things. Basically, we want SST again be a dynamic and revitalizing core assets of the local culture, and do not stop there: they cover and regain its former zone of Pyrenean performance; including particularly the monumental heritage of the peoples that make up the Valls de Valira, without forgetting the wide Pyrenean area. So, too, we thought it might be a good Romanesque Interpretation Center Pyrenean especially if the time came when our neighbors Andorran incorporated into the project actively.
Besides being a place of worship, we want to recover everything that has been lost due to the persistent looting; even for playback or copy. For now, despite the financial difficulties in finding sponsorship or patronage, our Centre of Studies performed the following actions:
1. In preparation, catalane edition of the book entitled Els benedictins a Tavèrnoles- Anserall.
2. Processing the file for playback Canopy and front of the bishops. We have oral and written authorization from the bishopric of MNAC; also the professional team that would take him to fruition. It only remains to obtain permission from the authorities of Culture (and funding).
3. It would be necessary for the rehabilitate access (the stretch to Civís road) passing through the rear of the monastery and that goes to the main street of Anserall order to be able to perform archaeological surveys and modify recovery site. We should also make a brief restoration expansion in the 1970s.
And finally, to say that all need the support of both the Catalan administrations and as the Andorran; we would also enjoy the complicity and support of the bishop and the help of collective defined as civil society and the enthusiasm and support all who, like you, want to stay true to our roots.
Thank you very much for your attention and remain at your disposal for any matter iver SSdT.
[i] We appreciate the initial data for this research received from history professor Mr.Manuel Gabriel i Forn current president of the Associació d’Amics de Sant Pere de Ponts (Friends Association of Sant Pere de Ponts), Ponts (La Noguera County).
[ii] We also appreciate the assistance of Mr. Francesc Alcázar i Domingo, president of the Association of Friends of Cami de Sant Jaume del Segre, Ponts, provided by the bibliography.
[iii] The normalization of Catalan writing sets Serni with the S word, but there is a current Andorran people considered right to do with the letter C.
[iv] Sant Andreu de Tolse (St.Julià de Lòria), Sant Vicenç d’Enclar (Sta.Coloma) and Sant Jaume d’Engordany.
[v] That exists in Balaguer the church dedicated to San Salvador.
[vi] Pope Julius II was also a commendatory abbot of Montserrat monastery