The Pontifical Basilica of San Miguel is one of the most interesting churches of Madrid, a city that has few churches of this artistic category. It is a creation of the best eighteenth-century Italian baroque, built by Queen Elizabeth of Farnese when her son Msgr. Luis Anthony of Bourbon was Archbishop of Toledo, the diocese whose extension at that time included Madrid.

The proposal of the Italian architects, innovative and full of surprises contrasts with the usual architecture of the baroque of Madrid, much more sober and more predictable, and which had concentrated the decoration of its facades, before the classical reaction, in the elaborated doors.

The present basilica, declared National Monument by the Royal Decree of 28th of November 1984, is constructed on the site of the former parish of Sts. Just and Pastor, one of the first parishes of Madrid.

The parish is one of the ten collations cited in the Charter granted to Madrid by King Alfonse VIII, grand son of the one who conquered the township from the Muslims, Alfonse VI.

The charter took shape gradually between 1158 and 1202and mentions this parish in the fourth position, as Saint Just, after Saint Mary, Saint Andrew and Saint Peter. As far as San Miguel (Saint Michael), which would give name to Saint Just for centuries, it appears in the charter of 1202 as Sancto Michaele, different from another church also dedicated to Saint Michael, called de Sagra.

The available documents-the parochial books- show that St. Just was the object of reforms and improvements on its decoration in the 16th century, maintaining its status as a parish of the older Madrid.

In this parish were buried the father of Quevedo, as well as his maternal grand parents and one of his brothers, and in the parochial books there are death certificates of Alonso of Ercilla, of the father of Michael of Cervantes, Rodrigo, Francis López of Zárate, of members of the family Lopez of Hoyos, Jerome and Francis of the Quintana or Doctor Godínez.

In 1738 the old church was demolished, certainly losing that way a building of great historic interest. The new church is a consequence of such discoveries y of the more advanced discoveries of its time, that it announces a change towards the restraint and discipline of the classic language.

The church was renamed Saint Michael, Saints Just and Pastor when, as already stated, it was merged with the parish dedicated to St. Michael that was on the site of the present-day market of that name. It's setting on fire in 1790 and its looting during the French invasion made the transfer obligatory.

From this church of St. Michael were transferred to St. Just, together with the faithful, some of the works of art that it contained, such as the figure of the Archangel or the bronze tabernacle and semiprecious stoned donated by Cardinal Zapata and made in Rome. Some customs were also transferred, such as the procession with the image of St. Michael that used to be kept in the oratory of the Consistorial Houses on his feast day, a custom that was maintained until 1834, already in St. Just. In 1643 the city council had made a solemn vow of participating in the feast.

Later, having been demolished in 1885 the church and hospital of the Italians in the race of St. Jerome, an ancient institution which, since the 16th century, belonged to the Italian colony of Madrid, the temple was ceded as compensation to the Apostolic Nunciature in 1892.

Previously, in 1891, the two former parishes had been transferred, St. Just being moved to the monastery of the Maravillas of Palma street and St. Michael to the neighbourhood of the bridge of Toledo.

By then, having been created the Diocese of Madrid Alcala, split from that of Toledo in 1885, the palace built for the prince Luis adjacent to St. Just was converted in the residence of the new bishops of Madrid.

The church, already of the Nunciature, was directed the the Redemptorist fathers and remained under the patronage of San Miguel (St. Michael), which it still bears today.

In 1930, the nuncio, Msgr. Tedeschini granted the church the title of Minor Basilica. In November 1959 it was assigned to the Opus Dei, being Apostolic Nuncio Msgr. Hildebrand Antoniutti.

For more information about the art, download here an artistic description of the Basilica, or download this presentation here with slides prepared by María Asunción Rodríguez.