This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Antezana de Foronda is a small town in Alava just a few miles from the capital Vitoria-Gasteiz that is full of history and practically buried under the capital’s airport, whose construction almost destroyed the small town.

It seems hard to believe that this village of fewer than 100 people could be newsworthy outside its closest circle, but they managed it.

Actually, what they did was considered auzolan (from auzoa, “neighborhood”, and lan, “work”) wherein the residents themselves kept up and restored their church, dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.  Basque artist Xabier Egaña also lent a hand, and once the local residents had finished the restoration, sat inside and felt that he needed to bring the walls to life.

The walls of the chorus detailing the final days of Christ reflect the Egaña style that recalls Picasso and Chagall.  Photo courtesy Pablo Corres Ibáñez.
The walls of the chorus detailing the final days of Christ reflect the Egaña style that recalls Picasso and Chagall.  Photo courtesy Pablo Corres Ibáñez.

This project, titled Paintings for Life, is one of the results of the will of the people of a small town to preserve their history, fighting back against letting their memory disappear, because that would mean losing their soul, and thus, their future.  Antezana has undoubtedly become a model and an example of the will to survive.

It’s a beautiful story that began in 2005 with the start of the restoration process on the church’s structure, and since 2010 has continued with Xabier Egaña’s work.  We especially love the detail that the scaffolding used during the interior restoration was ceded by the Vitoria-Gasteiz Santa María Cathedral Foundation from the scaffolding used during their successful Open for Works campaign.

It’s been a long process, but the results have been extraordinary.  We believe it’s worth pointing out that the artist, a former Franciscan, was one of those who participated in the basilica of Our Lady of Arantzazu, one of the largest Basque spiritual centers.


National Catholic Reporter – 19/11/2016 – USA

How the earthly and divine came together on the walls of a Basque church

The Iglesia de San Miguel is the pride of this tiny town in Spain’s Basque Country. Yet the 16th-century church, with its spectacular wooden carvings and baroque altarpiece, had fallen on hard times. Residents had saved the church once, decades ago, when they mobilized to fight an airport extension, just steps away from their beloved sanctuary. In recent years, forces of nature and passage of time were taking their toll on the town shrine.

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Deseret News – 14/11/2016 – USA

How the earthly and divine came together on the walls of a Basque Country church

The Iglesia de San Miguel is the pride of this tiny town in Spain’s Basque Country. Yet the 16th-century church, with its spectacular wooden carvings and baroque altarpiece, had fallen on hard times.Residents had saved the church once, decades ago, when they mobilized to fight an airport extension, just steps away from their beloved sanctuary. In recent years, forces of nature and passage of time were taking their toll on the town shrine.

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Religion News Service – 14/11/2016 – USA

How the earthly and divine came together on the walls of a Basque church

The Iglesia de San Miguel is the pride of this tiny town in Spain’s Basque Country. Yet the 16th-century church, with its spectacular wooden carvings and baroque altarpiece, had fallen on hard times. Residents had saved the church once, decades ago, when they mobilized to fight an airport extension, just steps away from their beloved sanctuary. In recent years, forces of nature and passage of time were taking their toll on the town shrine.

(Continue) (Automatic Translation)


Heimsath Architects – 14/11/2016 – USA

MODERN ART FOR OLD CHURCH WALLS IN SPAIN

Several decades ago, a small village in Northern Spain fought hard to save its old church. An airport was due to be built over old stone walls dating from as early as the 16th century. The campaign was successful, the runway was rerouted, and the Church de San Miquel Arcangel was saved. More recently, the village leaders realized they needed to find expanded uses for their landmark structure. While worship services would continue, the intention was to bring in new activities as a community and arts center. They reached out to established artist and former Franciscan monk, Xabier Egaña. The artist was inspired to develop a colorful vision of contemporary and traditional symbolism to cover the interior walls.

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 Antezana Pinturasparalavida mayo2016

The themes of the portico are a chronicle of the successful protests in Antezana against the expansion of the airport, which would have demolished the church.  Photo courtesy José Luis Alonso Quilchano
The themes of the portico are a chronicle of the successful protests in Antezana against the expansion of the airport, which would have demolished the church.  Photo courtesy José Luis Alonso Quilchano

 

 

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