Church of Carmen
Temple of the former Convent of the Carmelites, built in the thirteenth century by the infant Alfonso de la Cerda

This temple belongs to the group of buildings that was the Carmelite monastery, from the end of the 13th century until 1836, when the expulsion of the monks took place and its abolition as a monastery, due to the sale of church lands in the 19th century.

This church remained as an assistant church to the parish of St Nicholas from 1836 to 1936, when the Spanish Civil War began. After the conflict this religious building was the least damaged, being restored quickly for worship in 1939, because in it the reredos behind the high altar and the surround of Valencian tiles was conserved, the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, the patron saint of the town now, also being saved from destruction, and a fine collection of 17th and 18th century canvases belonging to various churches in Requena. These oil paintings were dismounted from their original sites and stored in the choir of the Carmel church, as if they were carpets. They were restored in the 1980s and currently decorate chapels and the sacristy of the church.

Given the ruinous state the church of St Nicholas was left in after the Civil War, and the impossibility of restoring it, the parish of St Nicholas, the patron saint, located in the town, was transferred to the Carmel Church, in the suburbs, at the beginning of the 1940s.

In our beloved Carmelite temple, which is the oldest Marian shrine in the region, we can find two very different spaces: the Gothic chapel of Our Lady of Soterraña, which belonged to the first monastery church, and the main church, dating from the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. In it, despite its baroque transformation in the 18th century, the late Gothic style in which it was built can be clearly seen. The Gothic ribs of the transept dome, of the side chapels and those of the apse of the main chapel are visible, as is the porch of the Isabelline Gothic sacristy. The frescoes of the apse are Renaissance and were discovered in 1998.

INSIDE

Besides Our Lady of Mount Carmel, located on the reredos of the high altar, in the neo-classical style of 1831 and with a beautiful chapel, this church venerates Our Lady of Sorrows, declared canonically as the patron saint of the town in 1955, and the patron saint, St Nicholas. The male and female patron saints occupy the transept chapels in beautiful marble reredoses decorated in bronze in 1942 and 1950 respectively.

Our Lady of Soterraña, original patron saint of Requena since the establishment of the monastery, is venerated in her spacious chapel, situated at the west end of the main church and behind the choir.

It is a tradition that the original image of Soterraña was brought to the monastery by D. Alfonso de la Cerda, its founder. Prince Alfonso had inherited this sculpture in wood from his maternal grandfather, St Louis IX of France, who had found it buried on Mount Carmel, when he went to Palestine for the Crusades.

The surround of Valencian tiles is of considerable interest in which the figures of several Carmelite saints in blue are mixed with polychrome motifs of flowers, fruit, leaves, coats of arms, chubby children, etc.

Of the images for worship, besides Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Nicholas, the sculptures of St Joseph, St Anthony of Padua, the Christ of Veracruz and the Nazarene in the suburbs, are well made and date from the post-war years. Our Lady of Sorrows is from 18th century and the Eternal Father, venerated in what was the chapel of St Roch, belongs to the end of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century.

 

 

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