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Monks of the Abbey of Santo Domingo De Silos

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Biography

Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey (Spanish: Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos) is a Benedictine monastery in the village of Santo Domingo de Silos in the southern part of Burgos Province in northern Spain. The foundation of the monastery dates from 929, when it was dedicated to Saint Sebastian (San Sebastián). It may have declined following Muslim raids, but was restored under the leadership of Saint Dominic of Silos (Santo Domingo de Silos, c. 1000–1073), who was abbot of the monastery between 1041 and 1073, and after whom it was later renamed.

The cloisters of the monastery, which have large capitals with carved scenes, are considered masterpieces of Romanesque architecture, and have been written about extensively, notably by Meyer Schapiro in his Romanesque Art (1977).

The monastery’s scriptorium was an important one, which among other major books produced a finely illuminated Beatus manuscript (a commentary upon the Apocalypse); the text was completed (by two related monks) in 1091, but the illuminations (illustrations) were mostly done later by the prior, who finished his work in 1109. These include an important map of the Mediterranean regions. This is now in the British Library, having left the monastery by the 18th century. Other manuscripts were sold at auction in 1878, and are mostly in the British Library in London or the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. The library still contains the Missal of Silos, the oldest Western manuscript on paper. Together with the library of Toledo Cathedral, the Silos Library was the main repository of liturgical manuscripts of the Mozarabic rite until the sale of 1878.

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