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Personalities - Novitiate - Hermitage - Pylon -Cross - Icehouse - Fossils - Visigothic Remains - Hiking and Sports
Amongs the notable religious who have been members of the Order of Mercy accross the centuries must be mentioned the following: The Very Reverand Father Jaime Llorens de la Mata who was Director of the Order of Mercy and who began the work on the present church; the Very Reverand Father Juan Cebrián who was Director of the Order of Mercy, Bishop of Alberracín in 1632, Bishop of Teruel in 1635, Archbishop of Zaragoza in 1644 and Viceroy and Captain General of Aragón, Father Manuel Sancho Aguillar, a fine and scholarly writer; the brother-priests Faustino and Policarpo Gazulla Galve, the former was an historian of international fame and the latter, a man of letters, Father Román Lisbona and LiborioMir, both inspired poets; Father Bienvenido Lahoz Laínez, a great thinker and the Blessed Father Mateo de Lana; Juan Martín, Antonio de Córdoba and Brother Cipriano Herrero.
In the crypt at the foot of the alter rest the benefactors of the Monastery: Doña Teresa Bermúdez de Castro, Vice-countess of Castejón, Don José Berenguer de Barjajé; Marqués de Cañizar and Señor de Estercuel; Don Luis de Palafox (brother of the hero of Zaraoza); Marqués de Lazán; Don Joaquin Rebolledo de Palafox y Palafox and his wife Doña Vicenta de la Cerda y Palafox. In the same crypt are the remains of the religious from El Olivar who were maryred in 1936.
The Monastery of Santa Marie de El Olivar is the novitiate or training house of the order of Mercy of the Province of Aragón. The mailing address is:
Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de El Olivar
Communidad de Religosos Mercedarios
44558 Estercuel (Teruel)
Phone: 978 - 75 23 00 or 978 - 72 70 09.
On a spur of the mountain to the south of the Monastery, sitting on a rock grag (Las Pañuelas) is the hermitage of the 17th century monks. From here, according to legend, the shephard Pedro Nobés, who was tending the flock of Don Gil, noticed a light down in the olive grove. The light was different from any he had seen before, resplendent. He went down to investigate and, in the branches of an olive tree, found the Image of the Virgin holding the Christ Child in her arms.
Fifty metres south-west of the monastery set amid cypress trees is a pylon of stone with a painted tile showing the legend of the shepard, Pedro Nobés before the image of the Virgin of the Olive Grove. According to tradition, this simple marker is the place where Pedro Nobés saw the image of Mary in the burning olive tree. And like the burning bush of Moses, the olive tree burned with a beautiful light but was not consumed by the flames.
Two hundred metres from the monastery, on the road that leads back to Estercuel, rises another column on a base of stone. Surrounded by eight old cypresses, this octagonal shaft is topped with the coat of arms of the Order of Mercy. The column marks the crossroads of the several old "highways" to and from the surrounding towns and the Monastery.
On the trail to the Ermitage del Pastor, past the monastery gardens and over a small stream, is a small domed stone structure. This is the "Ice house" probably built in the 15th century. The monks would store snow and ice here between layers of straw to save it for the hot summers. That way, they could enjoy a "cool drink" during the hot dusty summer days.
About three kilometres from the monastery, on the road to Oliete ( and not far from the cross that commorates the maryterdom in 1936 of two Mercedarios, José Trallero and Jaime Codina) and descending to the riverbed, is an important layer of oyster fossils of different species that delight the curious and fascinate the paleontologist. There are a great number of specimins still in good condition that still have their mother-of-pearl lining in their shells.
Five kilomiters from the monastery and close to the mouth of the river La Peña, are conserved six sarcóvagos of different sizes escavated from the left bank of the river. From the designs on the sarcafogus, they are thought to be Visigothic.
Most of the people who came here enjoy the hiking or trekking by the sorroundings hills and woods. There are several tours of 1 to 5 hours walking around the Monastery. There are also the Maestrazgo County, starting at this place, that offers to visitors more than 100 kilometers of wild ways, some of them in the European Great Distance Ways, like the GR-8 and the GR-7.
At the Monastery is building a small sports complex that will include a football pitch, a swimming pool and a regulation frontón court.
Author: Juan Devesa. Suggestions to: Mercedarian Friars - El Olivar
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