Today we left the coast to go a few kilometres inland. We have not been separated from the water. That is impossible in this estuary. We have left the sea, but we have gone along the San Xusto river. We are in the land of Lousame, and this is one of its hidden gems.
Solving a doubt is what has brought us here. There is something that does not fit and we want to unravel it.
Let’s see: we have always been told that mysticism needed a suitable setting. To achieve this union with divinity, contemplative peace was necessary. Nothing better than the Castilian plains for this purpose.
Those distant and rectilinear horizons offered the perfect backdrop for becoming an ascetic. To think about things that surpass us. To take a leap from the human to the divine. To imagine and forget everyday chores. Fray Luis de León, San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa de Jesús are the shining examples of this message.
Unamuno, a Basque but an adopted Salamancan, sought an explanation for the mysticism of the Castilian soul, generally understood as sullen and dry. And he also found it in the landscape: “There is no communion with nature here, nor does nature absorb us in its splendid exuberance; this infinite countryside, in which man shrinks without losing himself, and in which, amidst the dryness of the fields, we feel the dryness of the soul, is more than a pantheistic, monotheistic landscape” (El alma de Castilla).
Galicia is very different, almost opposite. The varied beauty of our surroundings leads us to a constant seesaw that prevents digression. This approach could give rise to an inferiority complex: Castilians connected to the beyond and Galicians clinging to their homeland, would be the summary.
Perhaps to fight against this we have built tremendous monasteries, such as Oseira, Celanova, Sobrado dos Monxes, Monfero, San Martín Pinario, Samos or Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil. There are plenty of examples.
But this is not the case of our protagonist today, a small monastery almost hidden from our sight. It is true that its power extended over a wide territory, but victim of many tactical movements, only a small sample of good taste has remained of its distant splendour.
But very good taste! The Monastery of Toxosoutos is squeezed between bends of the river San Xusto. Between waterfalls and bridges. Between ferns and mosses. In a setting where all the possible shades of green are only interrupted by the golden tone that sometimes, and only sometimes, shows off the façade of the sober baroque church.
Next to it, other small buildings help to form a very peculiar enclosure. A place to cool off in the summer or for the rest of the year, well wrapped up, to defy the prevailing humidity and contemplate this explosion of nature amidst crystal clear waters.
And once we have started to contemplate, we can conclude that mysticism can also be reached through a nearby beauty, that of a work of art made by rivers and plants that has nothing to envy to a sunrise on the plateau. And nothing like it…
Come and discover the monastery of San Xusto de Toxosoutos in Lousame, Ría de Muros Noia. You will find it next to the AC-543 (old Noia-Santiago road). If you drive along the fast corridor, CG 1.5, take exit 27 towards Lousame, it is only a few kilometres away and you will find enough signs to get there.