Monastery of La Vid

The Monastery of Saint Mary of La Vid dates back to the 12th century when the Premonstratensian community received royal support for the construction of a monastery.

Around the year 1140 Sancho Ansúrez and Domingo Gómez de Campdespina, two Castilian nobles, who had professed in the French abbey of Saint Martin of Laon, returned to Castile where they founded the first two Spanish Premonstratensian abbeys. Sancho Ansúrez, with the help of his powerful family, founded the monastery of Saint Mary of Retuerta and Domingo Gómez de Campdespina the monastery of Saint Mary of Sacral Mount, located on the right bank of the Duero, about two kilometres from the current location of the monastery.

A few years later, in 1152, Alfonso VII confirmed to the Church of Saint Mary of Sacral Mount, to his abbot Domingo and to his successors the ownership of “illo loco qui vocatur Vide”, stating that “ibi sub beati Augustini regulates commorantes abbatiam constituatis”. The construction works of the primitive abbey lasted six or seven years, according to some of the Premonstratensian chronicles that are preserved in the monastery archive. Those articles allow us to suppose that around 1160 the Sacral Mount community had already settled in the new Vitense monastery.

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” (Saint Augustine)

The primitive monastery, built according to Romanesque canons, was favoured since its foundation by the protection of the Castilian monarchs Alfonso VII, Alfonso VIII and their immediate successors. In 1288 Sancho IV granted the Premonstratensian community the necessary means to renovate and expand the monastery, adapting the first constructions to the needs of the abbey, on which fifteen others depended and which already had an important territorial heritage. The medieval centuries saw alternating Romanesque with Gothic; the abbots extended their power beyond the walls of the monastery, becoming true feudal lords, spiritual and temporal rectors of the canons and their vassals.

At the beginning of the 16th century, another chapter in the history of the monastery began. Íñigo López de Mendoza, a member of the Miranda county family, managed to get the Pope to grant him the appointment of commendatory abbot in 1516. The desire to turn the abbey into a family pantheon ,led him to plan and execute profound changes in the monastic building. Then, a new cloister was built to replace the previous Romanesque one, and the current church was built. In addition, Íñigo was concerned with the religious reform of the Vitense canons, suppressing the perpetuity in the government of the abbots. From then on the governments were triennial.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the monastery was completed to its present size. In those two hundred years new cloisters, three bodies of the Church, the choir, the refectory and, finally, in 1798, the impressive library, were built. Thirty-seven years later, the confiscation laws of 1835 put an end to the Premonstratensian presence. Seven hundred years of fruitful history came to an abrupt end.

After thirty years of desolation and abandonment, during which the monastery was subjected to a real plunder, losing the secular collections of its library and a large part of the numerous works of art preserved by the Premonstratensian community, the abbey was acquired by the Province of Philippines of the Order of Saint Augustine. The Order dedicated the house to the study and training of its religious. Hundreds of missionaries left from the Monastery of La Vid  carrying out a great apostolic task in the Philippines, where they founded and administered towns, parishes, churches, chaplaincies, schools, colleges and a university.

From the Province of the Philippines was born, in 1926, the Augustinian Province of St. Name of Jesus of Spain (commonly called Spain), which was awarded, along with other houses, the Monastery of La Vid as a training and study centre for the new Province. Today the old abbey continues to develop intense cultural work thanks to the Library, the Archive and the Museum. In addition, it has become the seat of the Interprovincial Novitiate of the Spanish Augustinians and has opened its doors as “Centre of Augustinian Spirituality”. It is not only at the service of religious, but of all those who wish to meet with Saint Augustine, with the Lord and with Mary, Queen of La Vid, in silence, peace and coexistence with the Augustinian Community.

In 2021 the 2nd session of the Provincial Chapter of the Order of Saint Augustine of Spain was held, which closed a whole process of union of the four Augustinian Provinces of Spain. The name of this new Province is “Saint John of Sahagun”. According to its Statutes: “The Province of Saint John of Sahagun, belonging to the Order of Saint Augustine, was canonically erected on October 1, 2019 by Decree (Prot. number 323/19) issued by the Prior General of the Order. It is the result of the union of the Province of Castile, the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines, the Province of Madrid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus of Spain and the Federation of Provinces of the Order of Saint Augustine in Spain […] it is registered as a Province in the Registry of Religious Entities of the Mystery of Justice on September 20, 2017 with number 023599” (Statutes, number 1).


Its construction began in 1522 and was paid for in equal parts by Cardinal Mendoza and his brother, the Count of Miranda. It preserves the beautiful Gothic image of Saint Mary of La Vid, sculpted at the end of the 13th century. It presides over the main chapel from a splendid Renaissance altarpiece, adorned with Neapolitan paintings signed between 1590 and 1592. The bars that divide the church are from the same period and have recently been restored.

Late in the seventeenth century, the side altarpieces, the pulpits and the sculptures located in the horns of the dome were made. In the 18th century the church was completed with the construction, between 1723 and 1737, of the last three sections, the high choir and the belfry which were made by various architects.

At the back of the church is the Choir. The choir stalls were made in 1665 in walnut wood. It was conceived on two floors with 58 seats separated by Solomonic columns. The mercies have floral, zoological motifs and elements of the heraldry of the monastery. The abbot’s chair and the one on the lower deck stand out from the rest of the set. In the lower seat, within a cranked frame, there is a relief that represents the imposition of the scapular to Saint Norbert. In the abbey support there is a niche, flanked by three pairs of Solomonic columns, which houses a carving of Saint Norbert transformed into Saint Augustine since 1865.


Commissioned by Abbot Bernardo de León to the stonemason master Juan de la Verde in 1625, it is a large rectangular room with three sections. Its walls have a molded cornice in the upper part, reinforced at the corners with pilasters. The roof is resolved by barrel vaults with lunettes. The thermal spans are blind and have the usual plaster decoration of a circle flanked by triangles. It is a large space, in which the sobriety of the walls contrasts with the formal treatment of the roofs.


It is built in the middle of the 18th century in the space occupied by the medieval kitchen and dining room. It is a large rectangular room that consists of five sections covered with arched vaults articulated through semicircular arches and ornate keys with symbols of the monastery and its abbots. It preserves the stone pulpit which is accessed by a staircase hidden in the wall. From there the readings that traditionally accompanied the religious meals were carried out. It is dominated by a large canvas of the Holy Supper, a work of the Roman school of the 18th century.


Construction began in 1517 and occupies the space of the previous Romanesque cloister. With a quadrangular plan, it has two floors with seven sections in each group. The ground floor preserves a large part of the structure made during the 16th century. The groups are covered with very flat star domes with broad keys whose ribs rest on the heads of seraphim. The second floor was built anew in the second half of the 18th century, replacing the one built in the 16th century. Twenty-eight windows open to the outside, formed by semicircular arches flanked by Ionic columns and retropilasters. In the spandrels of the arches a wide ornamental repertoire was placed.

In the lower cloister, the façade of the primitive Chapter House made in the second half of the 12th century is preserved. The type of arches and the sculptural quality of the capitals allow it to be related to the magnificent chapter houses of El Burgo de Osma or San Pedro de Soria.


It was the last great architectural work of the Premonstratensian Community. The main room of the library has about 25,000 copies, but with the rest of the rooms, the Monastery has more than 150,000 copies.

Manuscripts: Contains royal, ecclesiastical and private documents, unrelated to the history of the Abbey of La Vid dating from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. To these are added various literary and scientific manuscript books.

Among the Vitense manuscripts stands out, due to its antiquity, a Koran manuscript on parchment in the year 528 of the Hegira, that is, the year 1134 of our Christian era.

Incunabula: Identified and catalogued. Eight of them were printed before 1490 and six are unique copies in Spanish libraries. That gives an idea of the remarkable interest of the Vitense collection.

Bell gable

It is one of the fundamental works of the Castilian Baroque. Built in the first third of the 18th century under the direction of the masters Domingo de Izaguirre and Diego de Horna, it replaces the previous Gothic façade. In the lower part, presided over by an image of Saint Mary of La Vid and under a semicircular triumphal arch flanked by Corinthian pilasters, two bodies supported by columns are arranged as an altarpiece. The upper part, which we can properly call the bell gable, is made up of three bodies of decreasing height that adopt a pyramidal rhythm, supported on a wide base in which a large oculus is located to illuminate the choir. On both sides two shields of the ducal house of Peñaranda were carved.


Although the entire monastery can be considered a museum, in 1992 the old pantry, an architectural work of the 18th century, was fitted out as a specific museum within the monastery. It is dedicated to sacred art, with paintings from the workshops of Velázquez and Murillo and the Spanish School from the 17th century, and also from the 16th century. The lower display cabinets show the art of embroidery traced on liturgical clothes (17th and 18th centuries). Religious goldsmith works such as custodies, chalices, ciboriums, lecterns, sacras, reliquaries, etc. are also displayed. All are dated between the 16th and 19th centuries.


In 1998 the rooms of the Numismatic Museum were inaugurated in which a minimum part of the old coin fund that is conserved in the monastery. The coins are exhibited in a didactic way. In the two rooms a representative part of the numismatic collection is presented, which is made up of 10,793 cataloged coins and some 3,000 pending cataloging. There are coins minted in the Iberian or Celtiberian mints of Sagunto, Cartagonova, Carteya, Corduva, Gadir, Itálica, Malaca, Segobriga, Tarraco, etc., or those minted under the empires of Hadrian, Caligula, César Augusto, Constantine I, Diocletian, Julius Caesar, Nero, Theodosius, Titus, etc. There are also Byzantine and Visigothic coins, from the medieval Spanish monarchies, or rarities such as those from the Hellenic dynasty that ruled Palestine during the 1st century BC, or those minted by the Chinese imperial dynasties.