Wednesday, September 5, 2012

San Ero of Armentiera: Medieval Time Traveler

San Ero, looking a bit too Franciscan.
Visions, healings, prophecy, and even levitation are all fairly common among the stories of the saints and blesseds, but, over the long weekend, we missed one of my favorites, San Ero of Armentiera, a Medieval Spanish time traveler.  

Too often theologians like to remember the great treatise writers of the Middle Ages without fully acknowledging that these men and women lived side by side with the cult of wonders.  Many folks seem more than a bit embarrassed by these saints and their legends.  I love them and think they often have as much to tell us about the Middle Ages and ourselves as the more learned works that have stayed in print.

Here's what the Cistercian Menology says of St. Ero:

In Galicia, Spain, Blessed Ero, Abbot of Armentiera, eminent in purtiry and holiness. He was of noble birth, and founded this Monastery in the family domain. As he was very meditative, one day, contemplating the happiness of Heaven, as related, he asked himself if weariness could be found therein. He was then in a wood nearby. A beautiful bird began to flutter around him bringing ravishing melodies to his ear, so that he remained as he thought a quarter of an hour listening to it. Then he returned to the Monastery. But here, men and things were much changed; astonishing above all was that in the Monastery which he had placed under Clairvaux on the 3rd of the Calends of Autust 1162, as authentic charts testified, he found himself in the year 1367. The Monks shared his amazement and showed him every kind of attention. Then soon after, fortified with the sacraments of the Church, in the midst of the Monks, who were celebrating the marvels of God, he departed this life, and fearing no weariness, flew to hear the Angels’ chants for ever.

Other sources record that St. Ero was a childless knight in the court of Alphonso VII, who was told in a dream by the Virgin to found an abbey and beget spiritual children. A variant of his legend is recorded in 103rd of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of 420 poems in praise of the Virgin collected during the reign of Alphonso X. I don't think it's overly impious to say that the reappearance of San Ero might also have provided a welcome boost in pilgrim traffic to Armentiera, which lies near Santiago de Compostela.  Whatever its source, the story of San Ero provides a beautiful meditation on time, eternity, and contemplation.

The Abbey of Santa Maria de Armentiera.
 The Abbey of Santa Maria de Armenteira was secularized in 1835 and its lands, like those of many Spanish monasteries, were liquidated to benefit the state. The buildings were restored beginning in 1961 and a community of Trappistine nuns resumed life there in 1989.

Visit the website of Santa Maria de Armenteira.>>>