Santo Toribio de Liébana, Cantabria, Spain

The Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana is a Roman Catholic monastery located in the district of Liébana, near Potes in Cantabria, Spain. Located in the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain, the monastery is one of the five places of Christianity that, together with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Caravaca de la Cruz, has the privilege of perpetual indulgences.

The monastery was founded prior to the 6th century. According to tradition, the monastery venerates that largest piece of the Lignum Crucis discovered in Jerusalem by Saint Helena of Constantinople. Brought from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher by Saint Turibius of Astorga, the left arm of the True Cross is kept on a gilded silver reliquary. The monastery was initially dedicated to St. Martin of Tours but its name was changed in the 12th century. On April 16, 1961, the Franciscan friars, Custodians of the Holy Places, were entrusted with the relic’s safekeeping and with the promotion of the devotion to the Holy Cross.

Its origins are obscure, but it was during the reign of Alfonso I of Asturias, who was repopulating the area around Liébana during the early part of the reconquest of Spain in the mid-8th century. The first reference to the monastery of Turieno with the protection of Saint Turibius was made in 1125. Its foundation is attributed to a 6th century Bishop of Palencia called Turibius of Liébana, who retired with some companions to Liébana to live according to the Benedictine rule. When it was founded, the monastery was first dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, which name over time was changed to Saint Turibius of Liébana. Probably during the 8th century, the body of another 6th century bishop, Saint Turibius of Astorga was moved to the monastery, along with relics which he was believed to have brought from the Holy Land for safekeeping. The most important of these is that of the Wood of the True Cross (Lignum Crucis), believed by some Roman Catholics to be the biggest surviving piece of the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. Because of this, the monastery was an important pilgrimage centre, and is one of the important holy sites of Roman Catholicism in Europe, alongside other notable places such as Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Caravaca de la Cruz and Assisi. The monastery was also where the 8th century monk Beatus of Liébana wrote and illustrated his works, such as his Commentary on theApocalypse.

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