In this small section, as I call each one I make, we are going to focus on the image of the Christ of the True Cross of Villafáfila.

Serving myself as the work of Mr. José Ángel Rivera de las Heras. “New works related to Alejo de Vahía and his school in the Diocese of Zamora” [1] , we are going to relate the artistic value it has because they

 show us that it is by the sculptor Alejo de Vahía.

And relying on other works already published between Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez and myself.

Every Villafáfileño knows that there was a hermitage [2] of the Vera Cruz, which was nearby belonging to the church of San Andrés, of which the Brotherhood [3] the Vera Cruz was located there and in it

was the Christ of the Vera Cruz that It has reached us to our days.

All of us neighbors sometimes ask ourselves: Is this Christ, Virgin, Saint or Saint that we have of value? And if he had it, how much? The value we are referring to would be artistic or economic and who is the

 author, do we have any? reference. The sentimental value, both personal and of that town, is incalculable.

Nowadays, when great value is given to a carving by its sculptor, this Christ of the True Cross is what it is. I rely on the aforementioned study, but we are going to first expose the Christ of the True Cross

in Villafáfila.

1st citation of the hermitage of Vera Cruz de Villafáfila

The oldest reference to the hermitage is indirectly from 1490, since in the deed of expense that was made in the will of Yván de Collantes, which:

 “Falls on Saturday, the thirteenth day of the month of Hebrew, 1490” [4] ,

It includes the fulfillment of a testamentary order of this gentleman, who had been warden of the Villafáfila fortress:

“it was given to the Vera Crus + çien mrs. May Rodrigo Herrada, abbot” [5] .

This gives us that the hermitage already existed previously as its brotherhood.

We also know the existence of the hermitage specifically because in 1513, when Collantes' widow, María Vázquez, died, she left a statement in her will:

“To Vera Cruz and to Sª Mª de Villarigo and to Sª Mª Madalena and to Sª Marta and to Sª Mª la Nueva, hermits of this town, each one half a royal for their works” [6] ,

So it is assumed that their origin dates back to the Middle Ages.

It is not at all unreasonable because D. affirms D. José Ángel Rivera de las Heras in his work on the date of the carving of Christ.

“ which requires us to assign an early date in its production , perhaps the one corresponding to a​​​ or of the crucified ones of the Mus e u Fr e eri c M rès de Barcelona ​​dated to

 around 14 8 0-14 8 5  [ .​​​ 

I would place it carved between 1480-1485.

This makes us think that if the hermitage was already there, the Christ is dated 1480-1485, the Brotherhood would also exist.

Image of the Christ of the True Cross, description, place of location and belonging, and processional


Century: 15th, years before 1500. Focusing on the study between 1480-1485.

Style: Gothic-flamenco.

Measures: 1.2 m.

Author: Alejo de Vahía [8] .

Alejo de Vahía [9]  (? - circa 1515) was a Gothic sculptor of probable Nordic origin, since his artistic training seems to come from the Lower Rhine area [10] . He settled in Spain, where he developed his

 sculptural activity in an imprecise period of time, between 1475 and 1515. The date of his birth is unknown, although it is known that he died in 1515 or previously 11] , a deduction that Oliva Herrer makes

 from the census of Becerril de Campos, in which His wife appears as a widow.He did not sign his works and his personality has been reconstructed thanks to his very defined personal style, and a single

 documentary data [12]. He is, without a doubt, the sculptor with the most known work among all those working in Castile at the end of the  15th century , but Because of his constant repetition of schemes

and models - which, on the other hand, makes the recognition of his works very easy - it is difficult to trace his stylistic evolution.

Origin and location: From the Vera Cruz hermitage, it was in an altarpiece. Exactly at the peak that the Espino and S. Agustín roads form in their divergence. to which the site of the old hermitage belonged,

 known as the Hall, or the Humilladero. Which was dependent on the church of San Andrés (this church was located in the Old Cemetery), which were very close.

Point where the hermitage of Vera Cruz and the church of San Andrés were located (in yellow)


Place of the couple where the hermitage of Vera Cruz was, the peak formed by the paths of Espino and S. Agustín in their divergence


In 1642 the church of San Andrés became annexed to San Pedro and the hermitage also became dependent on the brotherhood. The church of San Andrés disappears in 1755

Old church of San Andrés, then old cemetery, remains still remain


The image was in the Vera Cruz hermitage until 1805, when the hermitage was demolished and it was moved inside the church of San Pedro without knowing its location.

Sketch of the floor plan of the church of San Pedro.


1896, on June 24, the church of San Pedro is suppressed and becomes an annex to Santa María del Moral. It was demolished in 1904. The Christ goes to the church of Santa María del Moral, surely not

 inside but would be located in parish buildings such as It happened at those moments with other images. In 1995 it was collected in the Parish Museum.

Christ of the True Cross hanging inside the Parish Museum 2005


In 2010 the Pro-Holy Week Board cleaned it up.

In 2011 the image of Christ of the True Cross was restored and introduced into the church, exposed on the west side (left hand) 3rd section, to the side. In the middle of the images of Jesus tied to the 

“Ecce Homo” Column left. and the Savior “right”.

Image of the Christ of the True Cross restored in 2011


West side (left hand) 3rd section, to the side. In the middle of the images of Jesus tied to the “Ecce Homo” Column left. and the Savior “right”.


Image description

D Manuel de la Granja Alonso, in his book on the Art of a Castilian-Leonese town Villafáfila [13] , describes us as follows.

The image has a head tilted forward and to the right side. Her hair falls to her shoulders encircled by a thornless corded crown. Her face, with a cadaverous expression, denotes a certain suffering. Her thorax,

with rounded shapes, is proportionate to the rest of the body. The back is flat, not sculpted. Its waist is pronounced due to its prominent ribs.

The “perizonium” or purity cloth is small - it only covers the hip areas -, golden, tight, crossed in the center, mounted on the right side over the left, with the knot hanging from this side.

It has its arms placed at an angle, the union of the arm and forearm well done. The legs are crossed at the knees, bringing the right foot over the left to place the nail, although in a somewhat strange position. 

His hands are open to receive his own. The polychrome presents burnished gold on the purity cloth and matte incarnation on the bare parts. Its state of conservation is acceptable. His cross is made of wood

 like the image. The brotherhoods of the Vera Cruz popularized the cult of “Lignum crucis” in Spain.

Processional image: It was the titular image of the Brotherhood of the True Cross that already processed on Holy Thursday night, since the 15th century, it did so until the existence of the brotherhood that

disappeared around 1880.

In 2010, the Pro-Holy Week Board recovered its procession on Holy Thursday, from the Vera Cruz “La Carrera” , about one hundred and thirty years after its last procession, through studies

by Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez of the old brotherhood, they attempted to make a procession that is most faithful to the current moments, where to give it a representative touch the Castilian cape is

 introduced, with the recovery of giving the Parva to the entire procession.

Procession of the True Cross in 2010 after its recovery


Historical details

We will make some brief historical reviews in reference to the brotherhood and procession.

In previous centuries he was dressed in a skirt.

The brotherhood's festival was celebrated on May 3, and on May 1, as prescribed by the Rule, the brothers had the obligation to attend, carrying Christ, to the procession and prayer that took place every year

 at the hermitage of Our Lady. Mrs. de Villarigo (a little beyond the Roman bridge).

After the precession, the “Parva” was given , which consisted of cakes and wine.

In 1693, two loads of wheat for cakes and six jugs of wine were spent on Holy Thursday in the year. In 1698 and 1707 they spent seven jugs, 1718 eight jugs. All of this provoked the intervention of the

 bishops of Astorga, who wrote in their visiting mandates during those years:

“that the expenses incurred in the snacks be moderated, mainly those on Holy Thursday and Good Friday... that people do not go out of devotion to the processions but for the snacks . ”

They did not pay much attention to these mandates, because in 1726 he reiterated it:

“most of the funds of this brotherhood are spent and consumed in wine for snacks, this being against the institute of the brotherhood of the cross, which is for penance and for offering suffrage

for the souls... and that such snacks In Holy Week they give reason to break the precept of fasting and other serious inconveniences... I order that only each brother who disciplines himself be

 given a drink of wine, and a small portion of bread to serve as parba .

Some effect arose because from then on they only spent one load of bread:

“in giving the parba to the brothers on the night of Holy Thursday, and giving the collation to the priests, so that they attend the procession of that day... and six jugs of wine in the collation

to the priests, in labar to the penitents and in giving refreshment to the brothers . ”

From this tradition of “la Parva” the rites and penances that took place throughout the night from Holy Thursday to the early hours of Good Friday just at the start of the Morning procession

(that of the Encuentro) that made a large number stay awake of people, who made the vigil more bearable with a few drinks of wine, would be the origin of the custom of making lemonade and partying all

night that the young people of Villafáfila have followed since time immemorial, mixing the weeks before with the festive.

The processions lasted until the night, so the bishop ordered that they leave in time to enter the church before the end of the day, (little or no attention should be paid, Villafáfila has always been about

processions towards the night).

In 1726 the image was very old in what can be indicative of its antiquity, so the bishop orders:

 “that the effigy of the Sstº Xpttº be retouched because it is without paint and very deteriorated ”.

In 1741, the cost of gilding the Christ case and two small Christs with green damask skirts is mentioned.

1775 among the jewels of the brotherhood are:

“Two green skirts carried by the Holy Christ donated by Mrs. Lucía Costilla . ”

Work by Mr. José Ángel Rivera de las Heras. New works related to Alejo de Vahía and his school in the Diocese of Zamora .

 In this work carried out in 2010, as we will see, it catalogs the Christ of the True Cross as an image attributed to Alejo de Vahía, which is why it describes to us in its polychrome that is crudely painted, in

addition to the passing of the centuries taken by the smoke of the candles. Today this Christ has been restored since 2011.

In addition, it also catalogs the Christ of Mercy from the Alejo de Vahía school (the one from San Martín) which is located in the Parish Museum, not to be confused with the one that comes from Santa María

el Moral that the Brotherhood of Christ of the mercy. Seo will give for another section on this Christ.

Christ of Mercy, from the church of San Martín s. XV or XVI


Literal transcription of the work of Mr. José Ángel Rivera de las Heras. New works related to Alejo de Vahía and his school in the Diocese of Zamora . About the Christ of the True Cross

of Villafáfila


The parish of Santa María in the Moorish town of Villafáfila with preserved sculptures of Christ crucified ,​​​​​​​​​​ one of them attributed to Alejo de V a hí a , and another to his school or circle of followers​​​​​​​​​​​​​

We have recently found in the parish of Santa María de Villafáfila (Za m ora ) and in the Za orano convent of Santa Marina three sculptures related to the production of Alejo de Vahía – “ i m aginero  

of Flemish or Rhineland origin , established in Becerril de C o s ( Palenc i ) , and active between 1475 and 1 5 15 - and coming in increasing numbers​ mention the numerous and dispersed work of

 the sculptor  , his workshop and his followers , as well as his artistic presence in the diocese of Zamora [ 14 .​​​​​​

The town of Villafáfila, located in Tierra de Campos , and close to the towns of Benavente and Vil l alpando, came to have eight churches in the 16th century : Santa María del Moral , Santa Marta, El Salvador

 and its It annexes San Miguel, San Andrés, San Juan, San Pedro and San Martí n 15] . It also had various hermitages until modern times : San Isidro and Nuestra Señora de Villarigo ( belonging to the 

jurisdiction of the parish of Santa María ) , La Vera Cruz (​​​​​​​​​​​ of Saint Andrew ) , Our Lady the White or Saint Mary the New ( of Saint Peter ) and The Magdalene ( of Saint Martin) . Of all the buildings

mentioned , only the parish church of Santa María remains standing .

In the parish center there are various sculptures collected from the aforementioned churches and hermitages , including some from the ancient Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Moreruela [ 16 ]​​​​​​​

Among them are two late Gothic crucified figures , related to the work of Alejo de Vahía.

The first of them ( fig . 1 ) measures 109x103 cm .​ It is , therefore , smaller in size than the natural one , which corresponds to one of the most common types in the sculptor 's workshop .​ Decontextualized ,

we cannot assure with certainty the place for which it was made , although oral tradition assures that it comes from the disappeared hermitage of La Vera Cruz , which was adjacent to the church of 

San​​​ Andrés [17] , where, as a titular and devotional image , it perhaps occupied the niche of its main altarpiece . We also do not know whether it originally formed a Calvary with the figures of the 

Virgin Dolo Rosa and Saint John the Evangelist , but we believe that it was an isolated figure as​​​​​​​This seems to be the norm in this sculptor 's production .​

It is crudely repainted , except in the area between the waist and the middle of the legs , explainable because in the past it must have been covered by a skirt , as was customary in devotional images

 of Christ crucified . . The back is flat, it is not carved in a round shape . The location of the nail that held the feet to the wood has been modified , since the original hole has been covered and the nail has

 been placed higher up .​​​​​​ The fingers of the hands , for the most part , are mutilated , although their position denotes that they were contracted. The cross, which measures 210 x 106 cm , is also repainted

 , imitating the grain of the wood . It conserves the original cartouche , as an apragged phylactery .  

Fig . 1. Crucified Christ . Parish center .​​ Villafáfila (Zamora )


The figure participates in the style most assigned to the work of Alejo de Vahá .​​​​​​​​ The head fig . ) , somewhat disproportionate with respect to a bulging thorax , is turned to the right and slightly inclined

 to the right . a ad ante ;​ It is girded by a crown formed by two thick branches of thorn braided together , from which it has lost its quills .​​ The hair falls in wavy locks and its long bar draws the usual scheme , 

with symmetrical waves at each end .​​​ado and empty under the labi or lower . He has a straight nose and prominent cheekbones , and his eyes and mouth are half open .​​​​ The torso , modeled summarily , 

contains the raised pectoral muscles and the raised ribs ;​​​​​​ The blood that flows from the sore on the right side descends into the relief , increasing the width​​​or of course the paint that surrounds it , and that reaches

 the inner side of the thigh .​​​​​​ Tall and thin hips make life stand out e , with the characteristic navel , formed by a curved line over another rounded one .​​

Fig . 2. Detail of fi g .​​​ 1


The purity cloth ( fig . 3 ) crosses in the hypogastrium , passes under the groin and one of its ends hangs​​​ e from the left hip ;​​ It presents a broken and “ U ” fold , responding to what is called “ type A ” by Ara 

Gil .18 ] , and preserves the original polychrome , formed by rectangles and gold borders on a white background in thefront of the canvas and blue on the back .​​​​​ The legs show the shinbones raised , but they 

are not available . in itself metrically , since this image presents a peculiarity with respect to the crucifixes assigned to Alejo de Vahí a : my entrance​​ The left foot remains vertical , the right foot remains located 

above it in external rotation .​​​It is precisely this late note in addition to the characteristic severity of the initial period of the sculptor present .This image , which requires us to assign it an early date in its

 production , which​​​​izá s the corresponding to one of the the crucified ones from the Fr e d eri c M  s Museum of Barcelona , ​​dated around 14 0-14 8 [ 19 .


Fig . 3. Detail of fi g .​ 1



José Luis Domínguez Martínez

The Christ of the True Cross in Villafáfila. -

Based on the work of Mr. José Ángel Rivera de las Heras, I make an expansion giving a report of the Christ of the True Cross.


José Ángel Rivera de las Heras.

New works related to Alejo de Vahía and his school in the Diocese of Zamora .

BSAA Art: Bulletin of the Seminar of Art Studies ISSN 1888-9751, No. 76, 2010 , pp. 25-32.




Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez and José Luis Domínguez Martínez.

Hermitage of the Vera Cruz de Villafáfila.

Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez and José Luis Domínguez Martínez.

Brotherhood of the Vera Cruz of Villafáfila XV-XIX and XXI its recovery. -


Manuel de la Granja Alonso and Camilo Pérez Bragado:

Villafáfila: History and current events of a Castilian-Leonese town and its parish churches. 1996 pages, 412, 443.


Manuel de la Granja Alonso.

The Art of a Castilian-Leonese town Villafáfila 2008, page. 26, 32, 44 and 45.


Alejo de Vahiaía



José Ángel Rivera de las Heras.

José Luis Domínguez Martínez.


Transcription and assembly:

José Luis Domínguez Martínez.


All text, photographs, transcription and montage, their rights belong to their authors, any type of use is prohibited without authorization.


All text and photographs have been authorized for storage, treatment, work, transcription and assembly to José Luis Domínguez Martínez, their dissemination on, and any media deemed authorized.

1] José Ángel Rivera de las Heras. New works related to Alejo de Vahía and his school in the Diocese of Zamora. BSAA Art: Bulletin of the Art Studies Seminar, ISSN 1888-9751, No. 76, 2010, pp. 25-32.

[2] Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez and José Luis Domínguez Martínez. Hermitage of the Vera Cruz de Villafáfila.

[3] Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez. José Luis Domínguez Martínez. Brotherhood of the Vera Cruz of Villafáfila XV-XIX and XXI its recovery. -

[4] Archive of the Royal Chancery of Valladolid. Civil Lawsuits. Zarandona and Walls 1353-8 olv.

[5] Archive of the Royal Chancery of Valladolid. Civil Lawsuits. Zarandona and Walls 1353-8 olv.

[6] Archive of the Royal Chancery of Valladolid. Civil Lawsuits. Zarandona and Walls 1353-8 olv.

[7] YARZA LUACES , J. , “ A crucified person in Alejo de Vahía : a new image”, in BS TO TO , LX(1 9 89),pp. 376-38 0 ; ID ,in Fons de l Museu Frede r ic Marés / 1 . Cat à leg d'e s culture

 and medieval painting ,Barcelona , ​​1 991, p . 274; 

,inthecat.​ oftheexp. Alejo d e V a hía  ,pp. 128-130and ID ,in the lcat.​ oftheexp. Isabel la Catól i ca.​​ . ,pp. 441-4 4 3.Anotherautograph crucifix of AlejodeVahía preserved

 intheConventoftheCanonicalAugustinian Mothers ofPalenciahasrecentlybeenunveiled , datedshortly after 

1500,ARA​​​​​​​​​GIL,C.J.andPÉREZDECASTRO,R., “ Thecrucifixof the AugustinianCanonsofPalenciabyAlejodeVahía”,in BSAA arte LXXXV( 2009 ),p p . 55-6 2 .

[8] José Ángel Rivera de las Heras:New works related to Alejo de Vahía and his school in the Diocese of ZamoraBSAA Art: Bulletin of the Seminar of Art Studies, ISSN 1888-9751,No. 76, 2010, pp. 25-32.     

[9] Alejo de Vahía: Vía

[10] Ara Gil, Clementina Julia (1974). Around the sculptor Alejo de Vahía (1490-1510). Valladolid: Sever-Cuesta, University of Valladolid. ISBN 84-600-6050-0.

[11] Bulletin of the Seminar of Art and Archeology Studies, BSAA LXV, 1999, University of Valladolid, pp. 203-218 p. 213

[12] Ara Gil, Clementina Julia (1974). Around the sculptor Alejo de Vahía (1490-1510). Valladolid: Sever-Cuesta, University of Valladolid. ISBN 84-600-6050-0.

[13] Manuel de la Granja Alonso. The Art of a Castilian-Leonese town Villafáfila 2008, page. 44 and 45.

[14] Until now , the high relief of the Nursing Virgin crowned by angels from theparish of Morales delVino ( Zamora ), considered autograph byAraGil anda work of art , was linked to Alejo de Vahía .

 from his school 

workshopbyYarza Luaces .​​​​ Cf.​ GÓMEZ-MORENO,M., Monumental catalog of Spain. Province of Zamor a , [t. I ] : text, Madrid, 1927, p. 327; HERAS HERNÁNDEZ, D. de las,Artistic - monumental

and archaeological catalog of the diocese of Zamora , Zamora,1973 ,

p. 105; NIETOGONZÁLEZ , J.R., Monumental catalog of the judicial party of Zamora , Madrid , 1 9 82 , p . 2. 3. 4 ; ARAGIL,C. J. , Around the sculptor Alejo d e Vahía ( 1490-1510 ) ,V a lladolid,

1974, p p . 33-34 and56; ID ,incat. oftheexp. The Ages of Man. Art in 

the Church of Castilla y León ,Valladolid , 1988 , p. 135; ID ,in the lc a t. oftheformer p . The Ages of Man. RemembranZa ,Zamora,20 0 1,pp. 571-573; ID , in cat . of the exp. Isabel la Catól i ca. The

magnificence of a reign , Salamanca , 2004, pp . 447-448; Y ARZA 

LUACES, J., "Defi n ition and ambiguity of the Palencia dogotic tarr : sculpture " , in Proceedings of the I Congress of History of Palencia , vol . I: Art Archeology and Ancient Age , Palencia, 1987 , p . 41

and “Al e jo de Vahía”, in Alejo de Vahía, mestre d'imatges ,

 (s e rie Quaderns del Museu Frederic Maré s . Expósitos, 6 ) , Barcelona, ​​200 1 , pp. 279-280 and 2 86.

And the sculpture of Santa María Magdalena from the parish of Ca ñ izo ( Zamora ) , considered autograph by Ara Gil .​​ Cf. HER A S HERNÁ N DEZ, D. de las, or b . cit., p. 42; ARA GIL , C.J.​ ,

 Around.. , p p . 39 and 51 and in cat . of the exp . Rem embranZ a , pp .​ 551 - 552.

[15 ] Theplace belonged tothe diocese ofAstorga( León )until1954,whenitbecamedependenton the diocese of Zamora .​​​​​​ Inthe church ofSanMartínthe famous " Concordia de Vill afá f i l a " 

wassignedbetweenFerdinandtheCatholicand Philip the Fair in1506.​​​​​​​

16 ]GRANJAAL O NSO , la ,“ The monastery of Moreru ela in Santa MaríadelMoraldeVilla fá fila ( Zam ora ) .​​​ Disamortization of the 19th century”, Cistercivm, 214( 1999 ) ,p p . 193-20 0 .

[17] GRANJA AL O NSO, laandPÉREZ BRAGADO,C . , Villaf á fila: History and current events of a Castilian-Leonese town . Its parish churches ,Zamora , 1996, p .​ 41 2 .

[18] ARA GIL,C. J , Around .. ,p p . 11-12.

[19] YARZA LUACES , J. , “ A crucified person in Alejo de Vahía : a new image”, in BS TO TO , LX(1 9 89),pp. 376-38 0 ; ID ,in Fons de l Museu Frede r ic Marés / 1 . Cat à leg d'e s 

culture and medieval painting ,Barcelona , ​​1 991, p . 274; ,inthecat.

 oftheexp. Alejo d e V a hía  ,pp. 128-130and ID ,in the lcat.​ oftheexp. Isabel la Catól i ca.​​ . ,pp. 441-4 4 3.Anotherautograph crucifix of AlejodeVahía preserved intheConventoftheCanonicalAugustinian

 Mothers ofPalenciahasrecentlybeenunveiled , datedshortly after 

1500,ARA​​​​​​​​​GIL,C.J.andPÉREZDECASTRO,R., “ Thecrucifixof the AugustinianCanonsofPalenciabyAlejodeVahía”,in BSAA arte LXXXV( 2009 ),p p . 55-6 2 .