To talk about the chapel of Eunate is to talk about one of the most representative, mysterious and beautiful buildings on El Camino de Santiago. Many are the unresolved mysteries that still enshroud this small templar building. It is located a few kilometres from the famous bridge Puente de la Reina, where Camino Frances and Camino Aragones merge. Both its peculiar octagonal floor plan and its ornamentation have been and are still subjected to study, but this is another topic. Today, we are going to tell you about the legend that revolves around its arcade.
THE LEGEND OF THE TWIN PORTALS
The legend goes that for the construction of the portal of the chapel of Eunate a reputed templar sculptor was called to do the work, he lived in the nearby town of Puente de la Reina. When his work was quite advanced he had to go somewhere else and had to leave without finishing the portal of the church.
As the church was nearly completed except for the portal and the master sculptor had not given any signals of coming back any time soon, they thought they could not afford any more delays and commissioned the work to an old local mason. Although he was not master sculptor, he did a surprisingly fine job which impressed everyone.
Once the brand new portal was in place the templar sculptor returned and was shocked to find that someone else, a stranger, had finished his job. He was at the same time angry and envious, so he looked for the commissioner of the works to express his complaints and accused the old mason of usurping his place. The commissioner thought it arrogant and urge him to finish another portal in the same length of time than the old mason had finished it. He had three days to complete the work.
He realised that this was not an easy task, to finish a new portal in seventy two hours. In his desperation and guided by his pride not to lose his reputation, he had an idea: he had heard of a witch that lived by the river Nekeas that perhaps could help him. She told him that he must wait for Saint John’s Eve, the night of midsummer, and find the giant serpent that came to drink on the river, the serpent would lead him to a moonstone that he would then use to magically build his portal.
Once he had the stone, he had to fill a golden cup with water from the river Nekeas. He took the cup to the place where the mason’s portal stood and a stone to build his new portal. He place the moonstone inside the cup and without any trouble the new stone was carved in the same way as the mason’s portal, but only symmetrically, as in a mirrored image.
The next morning, once he had presented his portal, was the mason the one that had a fit of anger, his masterwork had been copied and inverted. In his anger, he kicked the new portal and he was such a colossally strong man that it landed in the nearby locality of Olcoz, where it can still be seen today. Many are the curious that come to see such strange thing, the perfect symmetry of both portals.
The chapel of Eunate is a place full of symbolism. It is said to lie over ground where there is a telluric force, but we will talk about this in more detail another time. For now, if you want to know more about this beautiful church you can read Sergio’s post on the Top 7 constructions of the Romanesque on El Camino de Santiago. I recommend it.
I hope you found this legend interesting. If you find yourself in the vicinity of El Puente de la Reina or Muruzabal, please do not miss the opportunity to visit the church of Santa Maria de Eunate.
Photography of Santa María de Eunate: Wikipedia
Photography of San Miguel: Beatriz Sirvent
Translation: Elvira Sánchez