The monastery of the freed shackles

The monastery of Guadalupe had a space reserved for the shackles of those who had suffered captivity

The Monastery of Guadalupe had a space reserved for released shackles. For this reason, the most famous prisoner of Spanish letters who suffered captivity, Miguel de Cervantes, travelled to Guadalupe to offer the chains of his captivity in Algiers to its virgin.

There was a time when the Monastery of Guadalupe had a spectacular space reserved for the shackles of people who had been released from captivity.

Tradition has it that the Virgin of Guadalupe was surrounded by votive offerings of all kinds, not only chains: wax heads, feet, hands and bodies, but also walking sticks and crutches, bandages, shrouds, cut hair and, of course, a large number of shackles, chains and rings brought by captives freed from their torture in foreign lands. All these objects were brought by those who had obtained mercy from the Virgin after invoking her help.

One of these people was Miguel de Cervantes, who in 1580 went to the Monastery of Guadalupe to offer the Virgin the chains that had deprived him of his freedom during his captivity in Algiers.

Cervantes himself recounted that moment in his posthumous novel Los trabajos de Persiles y Segismunda (The Labours of Persiles and Segismunda) as follows:

«Scarcely had the devout pilgrims set foot in one of the two entrances that guide the valley, which form and close the very high mountains of Guadalupe, when, with each step they took, new occasions of admiration were born in their hearts; but there the admiration reached its peak when they saw the great and sumptuous monastery, whose walls enclose the most holy image…. They entered its temple, and where they thought they would find on its walls the purples of Tyre, the damasks of Syria, the brocades of Milan, they found instead crutches left by the lame, wax eyes left by the blind, arms hung by the maimed, shrouds undressed by the dead».

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