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Brotherhood of the Holy Christ of Good Death of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Brief Historic Summary

To talk about the story of our brotherhood, is to talk about help and commitment to those in need.

The Brotherhood of the Holy Christ of Good Death, buries its origins in the fraternity of the Saint or Vera Cross, assigned to the protection and help of the less fortunate.

"In the year of the Lord on the 6th of August, 1660, some youngsters found a poor man who was very ill under the Arches of the passage of the Compańa, and having asked to be heard in confession, which was the custom in those days, put him in the Hospital of this Saint and Royal House of Saint Laurence and having received at the same time the viaticum and the Holy Sacrament of the Extreme Unction, died in that it hospital, on the 13th of that month. The people who found him considered that it would be beneficial and
charitable for the spirit of the poor soul to put a cross in that place so that those who passed by could entrust him to God".

So says the Act for the Foundation of the Original Fraternity of the Saint or Vera Cross. So commences a progress that has to extent through the centuries, founded on the pious principals of giving, both material assistance as well as spiritual help to the souls of the fortunate in general, and in a special way to the brothers of the fraternity themselves.

Five years later, in March of 1665, the official founding of the Fraternity of the Saint or Vera Cross takes place in the Royal Chapel pf Saint Laurence (Sanctuary of our Lady of Grace). The brothers Pablo Martin, Domingo Lozano y Alonso Martin, request Brother Miguel of Vadillo, Rector and Provisor of the School in this Royal Monastery of Saint Laurence, the founding of the above-mentioned Fraternity, with the Compańa of this Royal Convent.

They must have maintained a prosperous life the aforementioned fraternity, especially in the early years of its existence, since in the year 1660 Don Diego de Valdivieso, mayor of this Fraternity, received, at the request of the archivist Brother John of Avila copies from the Papal Text signed by Alexander VII on the 7th of January that same year, by which a Bull Papal was granted, which gave the Fraternities diverse indulgences and privileges: to the devoted that confess, receive communion and visit devotedly the Church, Chapel or Oratory of this Fraternity on the day of the invocation of the Cross from the eve of that Festivity until the sunset of the following day and there pray to God.

Comparably, the image of Holy Christ, of anonymous author, attributed to the school of Master Salzillo, date which is unconfirmed, was brought as the image of the oratory to the Royal Monastery by Brother Anthony of Olivares. It isn't known how, but after the independence war, it appeared between the spares of crutches and splints, which the French troops maintained in the House of New Prayer in Madrid, assigned during the fight as campaign hospital. It is brother Augustine of Castro, administrator for that house who returns it again to the Royal Monastery, where it remained until the 6th of October of 1816, date in which it is bounded to the Fraternity.

It was at this time when the image was moved to its actual location, in the Chapel in the Parish Cemetery which has its name. The elevation toward God our Lord through good deeds in the moment of transition in life on earth to a better life in heaven, has taken the oldest members of the fraternity of Vera Cross, encouraged by his Excellency Provisor and Vicar General Brother Joseph of Malagon, to take it a patron and protector, and from then on, the Fraternity of Vera Cross came to b named the Congregation of the Holy Christ of Good Death, becoming the first procession of the Image on holy ground, in the presence of the Provisor. At the end of the act, the indulgences that were granted by his Eminency and Excellency Nuncio of this Holiness were read.

"Grant us a hundred days of indulgences to all of those people of both sexes who devotedly say the Lord's Prayer and the Creed in the presence of the Holy Christ of Good Death, that is expressed in this memorial, and likewise those who invoke the name of this Divine Lord in the hour of death, praying to God for the exaltation of our Holy Catholic Faith, extirpation of the heresies, Peace and Concordance between the Christian Princes, health and success to our respective governments of our Holiness Father Pio VII and Ferdinand VII King of Spain, and other pious aims of the Church. P. Cardinal Gravina. Madrid, 2nd October 1816."

In this way the Brother hood has obtained the characteristics that were created in the first statues, passed as "The Congregation of the Holy Christ of Good Death", by his Excellency, Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo Sir Cirilo of Alameda and Brea by decree on the 20th of April 1864. in them it was already shown the object for which it was formed and it is no other expect that of "worshipping the Holy Christ of Good Death, as is verified annually since its foundation to date. Every year, in the month of September, the Image of the Holy Christ is brought in procession from its Chapel in the Holy Cross". There by it is specifically mentioned in the annual September meeting in which the Brotherhood honours its worshipped Image.

Until the year 1936 the life of the Brotherhood elapses quietly, maintaining the duties in herited from the old Fratenity of Vera Cross. There is always a place for good deeds for the infortunate as was demonstrated by the box of compassion "or the box of the Holy Christ", which received the donations of charity from all that entered in the inn of "uncle nails".

When Civil War broke out, something happened, something that normally doesn't happen, the gravedigger who was at that time Mr. Alonso Montes fearing the courts, took the Image of the Holy Christ down and wrapped it in the Banner of the Brotherhood, and without anybody knowing put it in the grave that the P.P. Augustines have in the parish cemetery, therefore staying hidden from the fight.

In 1940, the Sacred Image was exhumed, a group of members of the Brotherhood meet on the 11th of February, and proceed with the re-organization of that Brotherhood, from those days to date, the Brother, is loyal to its foundations principals, celebrating with special emphasis the Annual September meeting, the processions at Easter.

At the present the Brotherhood has more than seven hundred brother members.

This is a small part of the brief, but simple and emotive story of a Brotherhood, for which the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial feels deep devotion and love.

The Directors

Traducción: Linda Wheeler Bryant


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