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Shrine of El Humilladero

The Shrine of El Humilladero is situated opposite the gate of San Vicente on the east side of the Walls, near the Basilica of the martyred Saints Vincent, Sabine and Cristeta. It is home to the oldest brotherhood of penitents in Ávila: the Ilustre Patronato de la Santa Vera Cruz, which was created by canon around 1540 in the Monastery of San Francisco, outside the city walls (today used as the municipal Auditorium).

 

This unique shrine was built partially in 1550 and completed around 1596. It is one of the most worthy and best-conserved examples of closed shrines listed in Spain. It has the characteristic centralised quadrangular layout of this type of monument which, together with the aspect of the gable ends and Renaissance facades on three sides, makes it an excellent example of Ávila architecture from the 16th century.

 

The chapel has two sculptures of great artistic and historical value for the town. The niche of the main altar contains the sculpture in polychrome wood of the Cristo de Los Ajusticiados (Christ of the Executed Prisoners). This moving anonymous work from the 16th century receives its name because it accompanied prisoners who were sentenced to death in their final hours, as once happened to the brothers of the Ilustre Patronato de la Santa Vera Cruz.

 

The other piece is the Holy Cross, sculpted in pine wood at the beginning of the 16th century and decorated in polychrome work with Renaissance motifs and reliquary add-ons carved in baroque style on the front.

 

Both works (the Christ and the Holy Cross) are important pieces during Holy Week in Ávila. They are carried in the oldest penitential procession in the town on the night of Holy Thursday. Today, it is known as the 'Procession of the Statues' and its route covers the town's historical centre. Furthermore, the sculpture of the Christ is also carried in the Stations of the Cross in the early morning of Holy Friday, accompanying thousands of people on a soul-searching route around the walls.