Sanctuary of Begoña. Art and faith.

Dear visitor, you are in the entrance porch to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Begoña, patroness of Bilbao and Biscay.

Access through the door to your left and you can contemplate in its entirety the temple built on the remains of the previous buildings. The current structure is Gothic style with 3 naves divided into 6 sections. Being a building of great architectural strength natural light is insufficient due to the small size of its windows, but these have interesting and colorful stained glass windows dedicated to different saints, among them, the Evangelists, St. Peter and St. Paul at the beginning of the ships sides. We recommend that you visualize the stained-glass windows from the opposite side during your tour of the temple.

The Sanctuary of Begoña that was elevated in 1908 to the category of minor Basilica is attached to St. John Lateran, one of the 4 major basilicas of Rome. For this reason, a plenary indulgence can be acquired according to customary conditions. At the entrance to the temple you can see at the front door, above the allegorical figure of prudence that seems to be holding it, the commemorative plaque that indicates it. On both sides you can see two medallions with the faces of San Pedro and San Pablo. At the top you can see a relief of the Coronation of Mary, under the figure of God the Father. Escorting to his left are the allegorical figures of Faith and Charity and to his right something more deteriorated by the avatars of the climate and the passage of time are represented Justice and Fortress. We recommend that you observe these details of the main cover on your way out and now begin the temple visit.

Your tour begins by contemplating on the left wall a large canvas of the “Canonical Coronation of Our Lady of Begoña”, an act that took place in 1900, in which you can see the liturgical habit and other vestments used for such a relevant celebration. Continuing along the left wall, you can see the first 5 works belonging to the Murillo school from Seville that arrived in Biscay in the early seventeenth century. This is a pictorial cycle dedicated to San Jose. They are the Dream of Joseph “Slaughter of the innocent”Epiphany of Our Lord, Adoration of the shepherds, Dream of Joseph “Conception of Mary” and Nativity of Mary. Arriving at the head, you can contemplate the Sagrario, a late-Gothic work of Hispano-Flemish style from the beginning of the 16th century made of stone with a half-point forging door from the parish of town of Nabarniz.

To contemplate with tranquility the greater Altarpiece we recommend that you feel in the first banks. First, you can look at the high altar, unique piece of Carrara marble partially polychrome and with the crowned anagram of the Virgin. The altarpiece is a neoclassical work of Elizabethan style in golden wood made in 1869. It is composed of 3 streets separated by columns and structured in high bench, body and finish where it houses a figure of pigeon as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and two huge angels at its sides. The central body is dominated by the Gothic stature of the “Andra Mari de Begoña”. It is a work from the beginning of the 14th century made of polychrome wood. The legend tells of the appearance of an image of the Virgin in an oak in the hill of Artagan, place where the sanctuary is based. On the sides are two 19th century carvings of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Joseph with child.

Raising our gaze towards the high choir, we observe the organ that has accompanied the life of the sanctuary since 1884. It was built in Paris, in a romantic style and is the work of A. Cavaillé-Coll, one of the best organ builders in history.

The most important festivities take place on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary and October 11, and feast of Our Lady of Begoña popularly called the “Day of the Amatxu”. In both dates multitudinous pilgrimages full of devotion take place from all corners of Bizkaia. In the mentioned days, the image of the Virgin carries a beautiful white mantle. Less common is the celestial mantle that you saw during the feast of the Immaculate Conception or the garnet on Pentecost. If your visit has not coincided with those festivities, you can contemplate the mantle in these photos.

At the foot of the altar stairs you can see the ancient and at the same time simple tomb of the patron saint of the sanctuary.

We continue the visit to the right side where we find the baptismal font of the end of the XVIII century made of marble marbled Ereño, semi-spherical, with a braided groin and bulbous foot, located under the carving of Saint John the Baptist.

We advanced on the right ship and continued contemplating the canvases belonging to the pictorial series dedicated to San José that we have seen in the first part of our visit. In this case, they correspond to “The Flight to Egypt”“The Holy Family and Saint John the Child”“Jesus among the Doctors” and “The Dormition or Death of Saint Joseph”. In between, we can see two carvings corresponding to the co-patron saints of Biscay, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Valentín of Berriotxoa.

Our visit is ending. The last table we can enjoy is “La Bajada en procesión”, which commemorates the processional descent of the Virgin to Bilbao on the occasion of the morbid cholera of 1855. The Virgin always present from time immemorial in the day to day of the City of Bilbao. Under this canvas is an impressive “Crucified Christ” of great devotion among the pilgrims and visitors of the sanctuary.

Finally, after the visit to the sanctuary where we have joined art and faith and before leaving the temple, we invite you to have a time of recollection and prayer, to sit in silence before the welcoming presence of Amatxu de Begoña, to meditate life of St. Joseph or simply kneeling before the Lord before the Tabernacle.

We put at your disposal some prayers.

+ The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 1, 26-38

One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David.

The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant.

Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God!”

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.”

And the angel left her.

This is the gospel of the Lord.

Consecration to the Virgin of Begoña

O Virgin of Begoña, Our Lady and Mother!
I offer myself completely to You;
and as proof of my filial affection I consecrate you on this day
my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart,
in a word, my whole being.
Because I am all yours, O Mother of Goodness!
Keep me and defend me as your thing and possession.