Visiting Valladolid’s Homes of Faith
Our visit to Valladolid City, in the “Living Museum of the World”, the modern kingdom of Castilla y León, could not have lasted for only one day. To truly appreciate the wonders of Valladolid City in Spain, one should not make haste.
Convento de Santa Teresa in Valladolid
To make the most of our second day in the beautiful city of Valladolid, me and my travel buddies checked out from NH Palacio de Castellanos early in the morning. We were set to visit another convent founded by Santa Teresa, and to the Church of San Pablo.
Entrance of the Convent
We were told by our tour guide that Santa Teresa went to Valladolid some time between August 9 & 10 of the year 1568. She founded her fourth convent here.
Our tour guide getting the key from one of the nuns
During then, the city of Valladolid has already been a city of artists and writers. When Santa Teresa came to visit the city, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, a nobleman during then, donated a piece of land to the female saint. The land was transformed into a vegetable garden and a recreational area for the other nuns of the Barefoot Carmelites. Soon enough, the land, which was situated near a river, became a bit unhealthy for the vegetables to grow in.
Quarters inside the Convent
It was then when the female saint was donated another piece of land, this time by Doña María de Mendoza. The noblewoman took the nuns in her abode until the Rondilla de Santa Teresa, the place which we were going to visit that day, was completed. Rondilla de Santa Teresa was finally completed on February 1569, and it stands until today in the city of Valladolid.
Wooden Door of the Chapel
The church, despite the fact that it has stood for over five centuries now, is very well-kept. It was the same as any other centuries-old building I have seen before, but Rondilla de Santa Teresa was unique in the way that it gave off the aura of not just a church, but also of a home and of a museum as well.
Nuns visiting area inside the convent
Inside the church were several, beautifully sculpted artworks by Gregorio Fernández. Also inside the church was Santa Teresa’s room herself, during her stays in the convent. Inside that room was a carefully-preserved handwritten version of Santa Teresa’s The Way of Perfection, and a huge collection of handwritten letters, also by her.
Rosary Souvenir from Convento de Sta Teresa
The Convent of Santa Teresa also serves as the home for the nuns. Our tour guide told us that the convent can house up to 21 nuns, but there are currently only 12 nuns inside the convent today.
Main altar of the Chapel
We were able to see two of the nuns during our visit. We were given the chance to talk to them and ask them questions ourselves!
Relics inside the Mini Museum
Me and my fellow travelers learned that the nuns have no television, computer, or mobile phones inside the convent. Although to us, that kind of life would be unimaginable, the nuns told us that they spend their vacant time planting flowers in the garden, or making small images of Santa Teresa. They then sell these to tourists to earn a small amount of money, to sustain themselves.
Images at the Altar
We also learned that the nuns only have one hour of break time per day (apart from sleeping hours). During then, I was even more amazed with how passionate the nuns were in maintaining the church, and dedicating the rest of their time to their faith.
San Pablo Church in Valladolid
We said goodbye to the nuns and headed to Saint Paul Square next. We went to the Church of San Pablo, which was located in the square.
Church of Saint Paul Facade
We were told that the Dominican Church of San Pablo was where King Felipe II was baptized. The Spanish king, whose name the “Philippines” was derived from, has a large statue in front of the church dedicated to him. The church was built by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada in 1468.
The church housed an image of St. Dominic of Guzman, and a sculpture entitled the “Lying Christ”, both created by, one again, the local artist Gregorio Fernández.
King Felipe II of Spain
During our short visits of the two churches, I realized how much the people of Valladolid, or perhaps of Spain in general, prioritize their churches. It was during my visit here that I learned that churches are not just churches, but also homes, and treasures containing the strength of the faith and compassion of the people there. It was no wonder why centuries-old churches, such as the Rondilla de Santa Teresa and the Church of San Pablo, are very well-preserved and attract thousands of tourists from all over the world.
Statue of King Felipe II made by sculptor Frederick Coullaut-Valera
To be able to experience a heart-warming conversation with the nuns, and to be able to enter the home of their faith, is something that not everyone has a chance of doing. And being able to do these things myself, I consider myself more than lucky.
Up Next: Visiting Burgos, Castilla y Leon