Lonely Planet review
This small church ranks alongside Madrid’s finest art galleries. Also known as the Panteón de Goya, this chapel has frescoed ceilings as painted by Goya in 1798 on the request of Carlos IV. As such, it’s one of the few places to see Goya masterworks in their original setting.
Figures on the dome depict the miracle of St Anthony. The saint, who lived in Padua in Italy, heard word from his native Lisbon that his father had been unjustly accused of murder. The saint was whisked miraculously to his home town from northern Italy, where he tried in vain to convince the judges of his father’s innocence. He then demanded that the corpse of the murder victim be placed before the judges. Goya’s painting depicts the moment in which St Anthony calls on the corpse (a young man) to rise up and absolve his father. Around them swarms a typical Madrid crowd. It was customary in such works that angels and cherubs appear in the cupola, above all the terrestrial activity, but Goya, never one to let himself be confined within the mores of the day, places the human above the divine.
The painter is buried in front of the altar. His remains were transferred in 1919 from Bordeaux (France), where he had died in self-imposed exile in 1828. Oddly, the skeleton that was exhumed in Bordeaux was missing one important item – the head.
On 13 June every year, it is a Madrid tradition for seamstresses to come here to pray for a partner, although the tradition now extends to young women from all walks of life. Whether spiritually inclined or not, the attitude seems to be ‘why take a chance?’