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The Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza

The Sanctuary of Virgen de la Cabeza is located about 32 kilometers from the urban center of Andújar. It stands on the Cerro del Cabezo, in the foothills of the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park, reaching panoramic views of great interest. The primitive Sanctuary dates from the end of the 13th century, and a remodeling was made in the 16th century by the famous Renaissance architect Andrés de Vandelvira.

During the siege of the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza, the temple was almost totally destroyed and rebuilt years later by the General Directorate of Devastated Regions and Reparations.

In the midst of the Civil War, when the military rebellion in the province of Jaén failed, a group of civil guards along with their families settled in the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza, this being the scene of a bloody siege by the republican troops . A monument remembers this episode at the entrance of the Sanctuary and if you look closely, you can still see remains of shrapnel on the side walls of the Basilica.

Miguel Hernández would journalistically describe the assault of this siege, depicting in detail its development, which would last from September 14, 1936 to May 1, 1937, when the besieged surrendered.

South Front. Number 15, May 13, 1937

(…) “The building of Cabeza stands before the bloody and dark dawn. In it I saw the representation of a tricorn monster … (…)

The Sanctuary also has the Mariano Museum, located in the premises of the Basilica and which contains an important artistic, documentary and anthropological sample of the historical legacy that the devotion to the Virgen de la Cabeza has been bearing through the centuries.


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Republican command post

There are some images that attest the presence of the poet in the siege of the Sanctuary, some exhorting the troops and others at the command post of the republican troops.

This helps the poet to convey in detail the development of the siege, as he explains in On the taking of Cabeza. Letter and clarification.

“(…) I attended the combat from the first moments, although without pencil or paper, I do not like nor can I exploit the moment I live, and I prefer to relive it remembering it. (…)

South Front. Number 15, May 13, 1937


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Church of Santa María la Mayor

The parochial temple of Santa María known as “la Mayor”, speaks of its preeminence over the other parish churches of the city.

The church is one of the most precious jewels of the Andujar heritage and remarkable for the wealth in form of movable property that it treasures, as we can highlight the presence of an authentic Greco, the Prayer in the orchard, in the altarpiece of the Main Chapel or the San Juan autograph of Sayings of Light and Love in the chapel and altar of Cristo de la Paciencia, which make it one of the most significant temples in the province of Jaén.

Although it is not clear how the Andújar manuscript or codex arrived in the city, it is known that it belonged to a noble family of Andújar (the Piédrolas) from immemorial times, probably as a token of gratitude for favors to the Discalced Carmelites.

But the most important thing is that the manuscript is a fundamental piece since, in addition to being a jewel of incalculable value in itself, has been used to contrast whether or not other manuscripts are in the handwriting of Saint John of the Cross.

The original manuscript, bound in parchment and adorned with golden embroidery, was permanently exhibited in the chapel and altar of Cristo de la Paciencia, so it was deteriorating and presented various alterations, therefore it had to be restored at the National Restoration Center of Books and Documents, dependent on the General Directorate of Artistic and Cultural Heritage.

Once the restoration work was finished, the original was kept in the Santa María La Mayor Church safely and with all technical conditions necessary for its conservation, while the Andújar codex exposed in the chapel and altar of Cristo de la Paciencia is a facsimile with great fidelity to the original San Juan.

Finally, it should be noted that the Santa María La Mayor Church was built on an old mosque, in the second half of the 15th century in Gothic style, presenting a serene spatial unity in its interior and great quality in its manufacture.