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El Toro, the highest peak on Minorca, has been home to a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary since shortly after the Christian conquest in 1287. A bull issued in 1291 makes mention of property held by the Order of Mercy on Minorca as Santa Maria de Podio de Toro, although the place name dates back further than this. An ancient legend tells how the Brothers of Mercy miraculously discovered the image of the Virgin, guided by a bull ('toro') which showed them the way. Records of the church during the Middle Ages are scant and scattered. The shrine was a site of pilgrimage, and there was an inn to house the pilgrims. It was administered by a committee with representatives from throughout the island.Shrine of la Mare de Déu del Toro El Toro, the highest peak on Minorca, has been home to a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary since shortly after the Christian conquest in 1287. A bull issued in 1291 makes mention of property held by the Order of Mercy on Minorca as Santa Maria de Podio de Toro, although the place name dates back further than this. An ancient legend tells how the Brothers of Mercy miraculously discovered the image of the Virgin, guided by a bull ('toro') which showed them the way. Records of the church during the Middle Ages are scant and scattered. The shrine was a site of pilgrimage, and there was an inn to house the pilgrims. It was administered by a committee with representatives from throughout the island. Read more
 

Shrine of la Mare de Déu del Toro

El Toro, the highest peak on Minorca, has been home to a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary since shortly after the Christian conquest in 1287. A bull issued in 1291 makes mention of property held by the Order of Mercy on Minorca as Santa Maria de Podio de Toro, although the place name dates back further than this. An ancient legend tells how the Brothers of Mercy miraculously discovered the image of the Virgin, guided by a bull ('toro') which showed them the way. Records of the church during the Middle Ages are scant and scattered. The shrine was a site of pilgrimage, and there was an inn to house the pilgrims. It was administered by a committee with representatives from throughout the island.


Augustinian friars occupied it in 1595. The mountain was also of military importance at that time, and the governor therefore ordered the construction of the square tower (which remains to this day) and the wall. The friars reformed and expanded the church and the other buildings. Work continued until well into the 17th century.

The layout of the church features a single nave, with three chapels on each side which open onto the nave through semicircular arches, with a barrel vaulted roof. The reredos features an image of the Virgin. The gateway in the Mannerist style leading to the far end of the arcade is the key feature of the facade. The Dissolution Act of 1835 forced the Augustinian friars to abandon the monastery. In 1936 the church was sacked and desecrated, although the image of the Virgin Mary was placed in hiding and saved. At the end of the war the shrine underwent extensive restoration.
One of the chapels depicts the cave where the image was found, along with the amphora where it was buried underground between 1936 and 1939, having been saved from the fire by a villager from Es Mercadal.

More information:

Location: El Toro
Town: Es Mercadal
Owned by: Bishopric of Menorca
Managed by: Bishopric of Menorca
Telephone: 971 375 060 / 971 154 313
Website: www.bisbatdemenorca.com
Parking:
Hours: OPEN TO VISITORS

 
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