This article was translated by John R. Bopp

We’ve just uploaded our visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu, and we made that trip for several reasons, all of them important.

Arantzazuko Santutegia from Eusko Ikaskuntza on Vimeo.

The first and main one is that we believe that every Basque ought to visit some of the places in our nation with a certain frequency in order not to lose touch with the roots of our people: Gernika, Arantzazu, Baigorri, San Miguel de Aralar, Laguardia, Valderejo, Pozalagua, Santiñamiñe, Sare, Maule, Las Bardenas, Zugarramurdi, Donibane Garazi, etc.  These are places where the roots of our people go deeper, where the energy of the land that has been our home for millennia flows stronger.

Without a doubt, Arantzazu is one of those places.  You can tell even before you arrive.  You can feel it in the in the footsteps that generations of Basques who have seen this dedication to the Virgin have left over the years, in the way that this is not just a place of religion, but also of identity.

Only thus can it be understood how the Basques who settled down in the possessions of the King of Castile in the Americas placed the guilds and fraternities they founded under the protection of Our Lady of Arantzazu, fraternities which joined and protected those “members of the vascongada nation” in the New World for centuries.  But we’ll talk about this reason, which is one of the reasons for our visit, a bit later.

For us Arantzazu is, moreover, the authentic personification, in one place, of the spirit of the Basques and their people.

It’s hard to get there: a small, twisty, curvy, windy road, much like the Basques, hard to get near and to get to know better.

Upon arrival, the visitor may think, a beautiful area, amazing views, with some hidden gems that are interesting and thought-provoking…indeed, it was worth it to come here.  They may also think that, after having broken through the initial resistance, they may start to get to know the spirit and way of being of the Basques.

Llegando al Santuario de Arantzazu
Arriving at the Sanctuary of Arantzazu

When one goes deeper into what looks like a small building, which is interesting but far less spectacular and far simpler than most churches and cathedrals that fill Europe, one discovers that behind that façade, there is so much more beauty, history, culture, energy, feeling…  Both the church that houses a simple wood carving of the Virgin, without jewels or decoration, just like its base, as well as the Crypt show the visitor something that’s much deeper than a church on a mountain (because we Basques have also had the strange idea of filling our mountains with hermitages, just as we did with places of worship on all our mountains before Christianity).  Perhaps this happens to those who, when getting to know the Basques, goes further.  Perhaps this happens to those who decide to get to know their own culture, way of life, and traditions better.  They discover that there is a jewel, a treasure hidden in the deepest part of our People that, with time, has been preserved and has evolved, over thousands of years.

Finally, while exploring Arantzazu, we discover that this church that we run into upon arriving is the most important element of a much larger structure that acts as the base and support, which is the consequence of centuries of building.  The Basilica is the central element of a structure that explains, and is explained by, the magnetism, the influence, and the projection that for centuries this place lost in the Basque mountains has maintained, and which extends over the whole world.  It’s quite similar to what happens with the influence of this small people on the world, because those who observe us fondly never cease to be amazed by everything that happens under the image of simplicity that this Basque people has.

Una vista de la Cripta del Santuaro
A visit to the Sanctuary’s Crypt

Another of the reasons to visit Arantzazu is that within its wall,s a good part of the spirit of a generation of Basque artist in the middle of the Francoist dictatorship is preserved, when they created and faced the powers that were.  History has proven who was right, and who has entered into the pages of the history of our country for their art and merit.  In addition to the surroundings, the walks up to the Campas de Urbi, the cuisine, etc.

All these reasons were enough for visiting Arantzazu and enjoying and feeling such a special place  As always, we’ve collected a few website links with information about the place we’ve dedicated this “Viewpoints” entry to, and we’re including a short video and photos we took on our visit.

We went not only to enjoy all of this, but also to keep a promise.  We’ve always admitted that we’ve been fascinated by the organizational abilities of the Basques in the New World during colonial times: Lima, Potosí, Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, etc., are places where the Basques created fraternities and guilds for mutual aid, and all of them were dedicated to Our Lady of Arantzazu, with a huge influence from the Franciscan Basques who moved to that part of the world.

The oldest of them, the Fraternity of Lima founded in 1612, had its own hidden treasure which was recently discovered: a novena written by those Basques living in Lima dedicated to Our Lady of Arantzazu.  Iñaki Bazán and Isabel Barraxa, two members of the families, from Lima and Mexico City, linked to their respective cities’ fraternities, helped “close the circle” of five centuries and got the novena translated in Basque.  They asked us for a favor: that coinciding with the anniversary of their marriage, we’d take a copy of this novena that had been translated into Basque to Arantzazu, to close the circle and present, in the place where it all began, this Basque version of what the Basques in Lima wrote and prayed in the 17th century.  We committed to doing so, and fulfilled that promise a few days ago.

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Placing of the Jorge Oteiza Sculptures at Arantzazu

Debagoiena –  – Eukadi

Santuario de Arantzazu

Este Santuario situado en el corazón de Euskal Herria, además de ser un lugar idóneo para la espiritualidad, es también uno de los ejemplos más significativos del arte contemporáneo vasco.

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Arantzazu –   – Euskadi

Para personas que buscan

Arantzazu es desde hace más de 500 años un Santuario cuidado por los Franciscanos. Se ubica en el Parque Natural Aizkorri-Aratz, en el corazón de Euskal Herria y en el municipio guipuzcoano de Oñati. Es un referente para la fe del pueblo y de los peregrinos. Guarda en su seno una parte sensible del alma vasca y de su historia. Arantzazu ha sido enraizamiento en la cultura y la lengua vasca, amor a la naturaleza, sobriedad y respeto supremo por el valor de la persona.

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Turismo Euskadi –   – Euskadi

Sanctuary of Arantzazu

The legend has it that the virgin appeared to shepherd Rodrigo de Balzategi over a hawthorn. The shepherd, surprised, asked: “Arantzan zu?” (You on a hawthorn?) Over the centuries Franciscan monks have made of Arantzazu a place for prayers, devotion, pilgrimage and promotion of art and culture.


Wikipedia  –  –

Santuario de Aránzazu

El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Aránzazu es un santuario católico mariano situado en el municipio de Oñate, en Guipúzcoa, País Vasco (España), donde se venera a la Virgen de Aránzazu, patrona de esta provincia y que se habría aparecido en 1469.

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Auñamendi  –  – Euskadi

Santuario de Aranzazu

Arantzazuko santutegia, Oñatiko udalerrian (Gipuzkoa) dago kokatua. Aloña mendiaren hegoan dago (42° 58′ 44″ I, 2° 23′ 55″ M) eta Santiago bidea bertatik pasatzen da. Santutegiak, erromesentzako etxea, frantziskotarren egoitza eta basilika ditu. 1950 eta 1956 bitartean eraiki zen, proiektua Javier Saenz de Oiza eta Luis Laorga arkitektoena da. Gaur egun Arantzazuko Ama Birjina Gipuzkoako patroi da.

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Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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