Church of La Milagrosa


A Neo-Gothic Building

By the middle of the nineteenth century, a new artistic movement appeared as a reaction to the oppressive control made by the art academies on architecture, culture, and painting. Starting from the search for the history of nations and boosting nationalism, artists looked back at former periods – Romanesque, Gothic, Plateresque, or Baroque. So was born the movement known as ‘Historicism’, of which Spain did not keep out.

The restoration of the Bourbon House with King Alfonso XII in 1875 after the laicism of the First Spanish Republic (1873-1874) led the Church and the Government to settle new relationships – the lower classes became more religious and concerned with religiosity. Thus, it is not surprising that this period witnessed the numerous constructions of not only churches, convents, or seminaries, but also civil buildings emulating from architectonic styles the past. In this context, Historicist or ‘Neo’ buildings appeared in the city of Huelva, such as the city council, private houses, and the Church of La Milagrosa, located at the centric Rábida Street. This is a Neo-Gothic temple, built between 1923 and 1929 following architect José María Pérez Carasa’s project.

Architectonical Characteristics

This church has three naves, the central one being higher and wider than the lateral ones. The naves are separated by ogives supported by whitewashed pillars. The ribs of the rib-groined vault of the temple also converge in the pillars, where they become roll mouldings. The upper floor between the central nave and the lateral ones is a reminiscence of the triforia typical of Gothic cathedrals during the Middle Ages.

The Stained-Glass Windows

The apse is roofed by a stellar vault whose ribs converge into roll mouldings crossing the presbytery longitudinally. There are several Gothic-like, stained-glass windows forming a dome which shows religious scenes about Virgin Mary’s apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré.

The Carvings in the Church

The apse shows a wood carving of Nuestra Señora Estrella del Mar (‘Our Lady, the Star of the Sea’), made by carver Miguel Bejarano from Seville in 1997. This polychrome, wooden seated carving depicts Virgin Mary as the Mater Amabilis (‘The Caring Mother’) and shows great naturalism both in her face expression and clothes.

A naked Baby Jesus is sat down at her left side. She bears a silver ship with her right hand. The ship symbolises not only the Discovery of America and the role played by the seamen of Huelva in the fact but also the Virgin’s role as their protector. In fact, the ship is the Santa María – one of the three which sailed to America.

Another wood carving which can be seen at the church atrium is that of the Virgen Milagrosa (‘The Miraculous Virgin’).

The Church on the Outside

The outside part of the church shows the typical Gothic elements: three doors corresponding to each nave, formed by three ogives with archivolts and gables in each of them. This Neo-Gothic temple has whitewashed tracery decoration where mediaeval churches have tympana. Besides, one can see flying buttresses and buttress piers, the latter ending in spires or pinnacles. The rose window is reduced to a triangular oculus of tracery in the gable. The main door is crowned by the bell tower, having whitewashed tracery decoration and a spire.

Today the temple looks how we can see it due to several restoration works. The first one was carried out in 1991 by architect Francisco Javier Vallejo Osorno, whereas the following one took place between 1995 and 1997 – also carried out by Vallejo Osorno.