THE BASILICA


 

The Basilica of San Miguel is one of the most outstanding architectural constructions of the Spanish Baroque. It is Italian baroque in style. Despite of having a small land area, by means of crafty architectural solutions, it presents monumental aspect.

 

The floor of the building is a bit capricious, since the architect had to adapt to the space between the streets of Puñonrostro and Pasaje del Panecillo. The result was a jewel of the town of the XVIII century, a church rococo in style with a great Italian influence.

 

 

 

 

 

The temple, at that time, was an absolute renewal of the traditional ways on how our baroque architects plan and design. The architectural plan was a replication of the churches designed by Guarini: the Holy Mary of the Divine Providence in Lisbon, Portugal and St. Philip Neri in Turin, Italy. In 1745, the building was completed. The fascinating convex facade of the basilica is topped by two towers with spires of oriental influence. The curvature of the facade makes the whole thing projected upwards, though small in area. The top part has two turrets and a block is supported by a curved stairway.

 

The main door of the facade is framed with a lintel with dried apricots and at the top, a relief of the martyrdom of the young Saints Justo and Pastor made by Bartolomeo Carisana. The beautiful sculptures inside each of the niches on both sides represent the virtues of charity and fortitude. Both are works by Roberto Michel.

 


 

 

Found at the second story of the facade are the other two theological virtues which are separated by a window with curved lintel, faith to the right and hope to the left. These two are are also the works of Bartolomeo Carisana, including the large coat of arms of the infant cardinal and angels holding the metal cross.

 



THE CHURCH INTERIOR


The structure of the basilica itself bears resemblance to a Latin cross with a large central nave and lateral chapels with three semicircular arches on each side. The nave is covered by barrel vaults with lunettes. The whole church presents in the pilasters that support the vaults where we see a concave-convex relationship. The side altars’ main purpose is to give perspective to the whole building. The temple is elegantly decorated with distinctive paintings of the vaults and with stuccos that resemble marble and gold, which makes the basilica one of the most majestic churches in Madrid.

 

 

 

THE PAINTINGS OF THE VAULTS


To the right of the next photo (in triangular form) is a representation of the Calvary. In the lunettes (also triangular form) are representations of the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremias, work of Hastoy. The paintings of the circular dome (the largest painting seen in the picture), made by Bartholomew Rusca in 1745, illustrate the apotheosis of the two children Saints Justo and Pastor. In the pendetive that holds this recessed dome appears the representation of the virtues relative to the children martyrs and personified by the following saints: Saint Barbara (fortitude), Saint Christina (virginity) and Saint Agnes (innocence). On the fourth pendetive, the angels are seen.

 

 


The following paintings between the recessed dome and the dome of the transept are papal attributes. In the following lunettes, are the prophets Isaiah and Daniel, the work of Hastoy. There are some grisailles with representations of Judith with the head of Holofernes in the right side and Jacob and Rebecca left on the side chapels.

 


An oval-shaped dome on pendentives on a ring and railing is found in the area of the transept. In the paintings found on the pendentives are the four evangelists. Inside the dome is the scene of the martyrdom of the children Saints Justo and Pastor and their subsequent apotheosis or the being received into heaven. In the dome are grisailles representing strength and faith.


All are painted by the brothers González Velázquez except for the paintings of the dome done by Bartolomé Rusca.

 


The presbytery is crowned by a vault of shell and arris. The scene of the painting is when Just and Shepherd appear before the proconsul Dacian. These paintings are also of the González Velázquez in 1752.

 


In the altarpiece of the high altar, is centered the great canvas that represents the Archangel Michael Miguel conquering the Devil, work of Alexander Ferrant in 1897. The two angels are works of Pedro Hermoso, 19th century. The 18th century medallion with the figure of the Eternal Father on the upper part is made by the González Velázquez. To the sides of the great canvas of San Miguel there are two medallions with the busts of Christ and the Virgin, done by Pedro Hermoso. We can also see in the main chapel the two lateral tribunes which are made in wood and rococo in style.

 


 

 

Among the carvings of its interior stands out the Christ of Faith and Forgiveness which leaves in procession every Palm Sunday - the first procession of Holy Week in Madrid. It is situated in a neoclassical altarpiece with large columns and a relief of the Annunciation at the top. This carving of the Christ of Faith and Forgiveness, formerly called the Light, is the 18th century work of Luis Salvador Carmona. It is probably one of the best carvings to be found in Madrid.

 

The image of Mary Immaculate found at its foot is a work of the sculptor from Seville, Juan Manuel Miñarro in 1995.

 

 

 


This image of the Virgin of the Assumption is an 18th century carving of Talleres Granadinos. The angels surrounding the statue are a modern art.

 


The altarpiece of St. Joseph the Worker with the Child Jesus is a modern artwork of Agustín de la Herrán.

 


The stained-glass windows of this chapel as well as three others are contemporary works of Talleres Granda.

 


On the left side of the church facing the altar, a side chapel is dedicated to St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. The statue of St. Josemaría is a modern work by the sculptor Agustón de la Herrán. Beside this chapel are two other chapels with stained glass.

 


Found in the small chapel is this early eighteenth century Spanish carving which frames the image of the Child Jesus of Grace.

 


The composer Luigi Boccherini, who died in Madrid where he lived for many years, was buried in this church. Until in 1927, Mussolini ordered to take his remains to Lucca (Italy), his hometown, in the pantheon of illustrious children in The Church of San Francisco.

The Basilica was declared National Artistic Historical Monument in 1984

 

 

 

Right next to the Basilica, we find a narrow passageway called "pasionizo del panecillo", a name that comes from the custom of almsgiving of the Cardinal Infant Don Luis de Borbón, who at the door of his palace distributed daily bread rolls to the poor.