Triumph of the Church (Triunfo de la Iglesia)
This tapestry has a spectacular composition in which everything is in movement; even the columns framing the scene which, being of barley-sugar type, provide a sensation of instability. Among them, festoons and cherubs are deployed with a sign reading ‘ECCLESIAE TRIVMPHVS’, so that the symbols cannot be questioned. Despite its size, its current location does not make it particularly visible in the church.
A Roman triumph against sin
Rubens conceived the exaltation of the Church in the manner of a Roman triumph, with a quadriga pulling the chariot carrying the Church, represented by a feminine figure crowned with the papal tiara and receiving the light of the Holy Ghost. The Church marches victorious over sin, represented by a serpent coiled around the terrestrial globe, and over personified blindness, ignorance and evil. Over the horse, in the foreground, an angel carries the keys of Saint Peter, the first pope, and three women representing the Theological Virtues lead the horses which pull the chariot.
Among the set from the Apotheosis of the Eucharist series preserved in the parish church of Oncala, the tapestry one representing ‘The Triumph of the Church’ is the biggest and most notable. However, its location in the nave of the temple, next to the entrance door on the right side, makes it less noticeable until the tapestries hanging from the front wall have been contemplated.
In the Descalzas Reales and in Oncala
This tapestry follows the model devised by Rubens, deployed in its full grandiloquence in the series preserved in the Descalzas Reales in Madrid, and which was copied several times in the mid-17th century with minor modifications. Comparing the Madrid and Oncala tapestries, we notice that the latter is less elaborate in its lower part, and that the feminine figure carries a cross instead of a monstrance as in that of the Descalzas Reales.
Series Apotheosis of the Eucharist
Model Cartoon copied from an original by Rubens
Manufacture Brussels. Manufacture by Frans van den Hecke. Mid-17th century
Fabric Silk and wool, 7/8 warps per cm
Size 430 x 755 cm
Location Church of San Millán de la Cogolla, Oncala (Soria)
Origin A donation by Bishop Juan Francisco Ximénez del Río, c. 1800
On display Hangs from the nave of the temple, to the left, by the entrance door