The Holy Chamber

Alfonso II the Strong, who always considered himself as a “humble servant of Christ”, ordered the construction of the Holy Chamber in the Ninth Century. This chamber consists of two overlapping chapels without any type of communication between the two. The lower chapel is the “Crypt of de Saint Leocadia” and the upper chapel is that of Saint Michael; a name that is given due to the fact of it being attached to the Tower of Saint Michael, a building which predates the Chamber and that is one of the few vestiges that still remains of the Palace of the Kings of Asturias.

This tower can be seen today from the “Chapel of Our Lady of Covadonga” -at the beginning of the Cathedral’s ambulatory- embedded in its walls. In the Twelfth Century, this upper chapel underwent a profound transformation. Its original wooden dome, from Romanesque times, was replaced by a cannon and a series of columns, decorated with Roman apostolate, were added to the interior of the chapel as to try to tell us that the Romanesque apostolate hold the roof of the chapel, as did the apostles –as a liturgical hymn beautifully says- they are “columns of the Church”. The pious King, when constructing this building, wished for it to be the place where the Holy Relics, that he sent for from a nearby Parish, to be kept.

Such relic had come to Asturias from Toledo -where they had been moved “from different places” by the Christians to avoid them falling into the hands of the Arabs, after the defeat of the Visigoth army in Guadalete. The most famous of them all is the Holy Shroud which, according to tradition, corresponds to the shroud that was placed of the face of Jesus Christ in the Descent with the Cross and to his final burial.

The contemplation of this Holy canvas reminds us that “through his blood we have received redemption, the forgiveness of our sins”. In this same place, the crosses of the Angels and of Victory are kept. The first shown from the Church of Oviedo and the city of Oviedo and the second from Asturias. As a result of the many relics that have been kept in this Holy Chamber for many years, we could almost say that, immemorial, the Cathedral of Oviedo is also called the “Sancta Ovetenesis”.

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