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In the afternoon of our last day in Banyoles, Marta José Maria from Arqueolitic led us again to the monastery of Sant Esteve de Banyoles.
(4k UHD video – Arqueta de Sant Martirià )
The monastery was founded in the 9th century by the Benedictine abbot Bonitus. War and earthquakes have destroyed it repeatedly. An important library was also a victim of this destruction.
The monastery has a very beautiful cloister. In 2003, Romanesque capitals from the 11th century were discovered during restoration work. In the courtyard of the monastery you find medieval canals for water supply, but no longer in operation.
Due to earthquake damage the church cannot be visited at the moment.
Arqueta de Sant Martirià – Reliquary of the Saint Martirianus
The shrine with the relics of the Saint Martirianus, the patron saint of the city, is kept in a particularly protected room. The shrine was manufactured in the workshop of the Francesc Artau between 1413 and 1453. The main parts of the work were undertaken by the father, the work was completed by his son Francesco Artau II.
The shrine is made of cypress wood and coated with embossed silver. The figures represent different saints and bishops. Reliefs of Sant Martirianus and a Madonna are attached on the sides.
January 11th, 1980 the figures were stolen by Erik the Belgian. Only in 1997, two pieces were offered at an auction at Sotheby’s. 17 figures were in the possession of a Dutch collector since 1990. Since the law on looted art has been changed only in 1993, she had all the property rights. However, the diocese of Girona succeeded in getting them back in 1997.
In October 2009, the reliefs were restored in Madrid by the Spanish Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Diocese of Girona. After the restoration the shrine returned to Banyoles again in 2010.