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Villanueva del Arzobisopo (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-06-03 by ivan sache
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Flag of Villanueva del Arzobisopo - Image from the Símbolos de Jaén website, 8 December 2015

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Presentation of Villanueva del Arzobisopo

The municipality of Villanueva del Arzobisopo (8,768 inhabitants in 2013; 17,738 ha; municipal website) is located 100 km north-east of Jaén.
The municipality is made of the town of Villanueva del Arzobispo and of the villages of Barranco de la Montesina and Gútar.

Villanueva del Arzobispo was granted on 8 September 1396 the status of villa by King Henry III. Originally known as La Moraleda, the place was renamed for the Archbishop (Arzobisopo) of >Toledo, Pedro Tenorio (appointed on 13 January 1377 by Pope Gregory IX, d. 1399), who had required the privilege. The successor of Tenorio, Pedro de Luna (appointed in 1403), confirmed the privilege on 6 July 1407. The new town was soon the most important commercial center in the Adelantamiento of Cazorla, connecting with the other significant towns of the region, such as Úbeda and Santisteban del Puerto.

Ivan Sache, 8 December 2015

Symbols of Villanueva del Arzobisopo

The flag and arms of Villanueva del Arzobispo, adopted on 3 October 1997 and 20 October 1998 by the Municipal Council and validated on 19 November 198 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 6, adopted on 12 January 1999 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 16 February 1999 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 20, pp. 1,938-1,939 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, one and a half longer than wide, made of a white field bordered all around by a purple outline, charged with the official crowned coat of arms of Villanueva del Arzobispo, whose geometric axis fits the center of the flag, in height 2/3 of the flag's hoist.
Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Azure an image of the Virgin of Fuensanta with all her attributes Baby Jesus in her arms all proper, 2. Argent a lion rampant gules. The shield in Spanish shape and surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The memoir supporting the proposed symbols was redacted by Andrés Nicás Moreno (Historiografía del escudo y bandera de Villanueva del Arzobispo (Jaén). Boletín del Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, 2002, 182, 125-152). The graphical design of the symbols is credited to Juan Millán Bruno.
The flag was designed from scratch, after the study of different proposals. White represents the Virgin of Fuensanta, the town's patron saint; the white colour also appears on the arms of Bishop Pedro Tenorio, the founder of the town. Purple recalls that the town depended for centuries on the Archbishops of Toledo.
The colour specifications are the following (Pantone scale):

White	W	White
Purple	P+	2627 U

The privilege granting the status of villa to the town includes a grant of arms, described as "a St. Mary, our lion placed at her feet". This is, obviously, the oldest record of the municipal arms. The only description of the arms in the reference books is credited to Bernardo de Espinalt (Atlante Español, 1789), as "a St. Mary with a lion at her feet, as represented on the attached drawing".
The Mayor reported on 6 October 1876 that the municipality had been using since 1873 a seal derived "from a stone effigy erected on the town's square". The oval seal features a Spanish-French shield, "Per pale, 1a. Two castles in fess, 1b. A tower, 2. Five fesses." There is no record either of the stone effigy or the arms it shown. However, a house erected in the late 18th century on the town's square is decorated with a similar coat of arms, "Per pale, 1a. Gules five castles or in saltire (Baltanás), 1b. Gules a stone tower burning a lion at the window (Valtanás), 2. Or five fesses azure. A bordure azure (Messía). The shield in Spanish-French shape, surrounded by acanthus leaves and surmounted by a noble helmet with feathers." Accordingly, the arms of the Baltanás-Messía lineage were used on the municipal seals of Villanueva del Arzobispo at the end of the 19th century, but without any connection, either historical or heraldic.

In 1941, Juan de Díos López Jiménez designed for the Provincial Council of Jaén a painting showing all the municipal arms in the province. The arms assigned to Villanueva were adopted in 1944 by the Municipal Council and kept in use until 1954, as "A shield in Spanish-French shape. Per pale, 1. Argent a lion rampant gules crowned langued and armed or (León) in dexter base, 2. Gules a castle or masoned sable port and windows azure in base sinister (Castile). All over a patriarchal cross or (Archbishopric of Toledo)."
The Municipal Council initiated on 13 August 1949 the process of establishment of the Town's Medal. On 14 February 1953, the Secretary of the municipality tabled a motion stating that the reverse of the proposed medal featured a crown coat of arms portraying the Virgin of Fuensanta and a lion, while the coat of arms of the town shows a patriarchal cross, a castle and a lion. Accordingly, the municipality would use two different coats of arms, which was prohibited by Articles 301 and 302 of the Decree adopted on 17 May 1952. The Municipal Council decided on 17 February 1953 to commission an historic and heraldic study to solve the issue of the genuine arms of the town. The Commission stated on 21 April 1953 that "the coat of arms of the town of Villanueva del Arzobispo shall be made of the Virgin of Fuensanta, the patron saint of the town, with a red lion rampant, the same as portrayed on the painting made by Juan de Díos López Jiménez". The design of the medal approved on 27 April 1953 by the Municipal Council, with the precision that the arms were those of Bishop Pedro Tenorio, was approved on 5 February 1954 by the Spanish Government. The substitution of the new coat of arms to the older versions was initiated by the Mayor on 22 April 1954.

The proposed arms are therefore a modification of the arms adopted in 1954, the only changes being the Spanish shape of the shield and the substitution of a Royal crown closed to the Infante's coronet.
Azure is the colour of the heavens, the residence of the Virgin. The second quarter uses the tinctures of the arms of Bishop Pedro Tenorio.
The colour specifications are the following (Pantone scale);

Azure		3005 C
Proper		 474 U
Argent		 414 C
Gules		 192 C
Or		 117 C
Vert		 339 U

An old legend explains the origin of the local devotion to the Virgin of Fuensanta (lit., the Holy Fountain). During the Muslim rule, a Mozarab community venerating the Blessed Virgin flourished in Iznatoraf. The wife of the local ruler, Ali Menón, secretly provided material support to the Christian community. Made aware of her "betrayal", her upset husband ordered to bring her in a wood located four km from Iznatoraf and to abandon her after having cut her hands and gouged out her eyes, which was done. The woman invoked St. Mary, who ordered her to wash her arms and eyes with the water of the fountain that had just gushed forth. Healed, she went back to Iznatoraf, where her husband immediately converted to the Christian religion and ordered the erection of a sanctuary on the place of the miracle. The statue of the Virgin was for a while relocated in the castle of Chincoya, where occurred another miracle, reported by Alfonso X the Wise in Cantiga No. 185 (Poder a Santa María).
The sanctuary was first documented in 1291, being therefore one of the oldest Marian sites in Spain. Pope Nicholas IV, in the Bull Vite et usque, offered indulgences to the pilgrims who would visit the sanctuary.
[Argentaria, 2013, 4, 38-42]

Ivan Sache, 8 December 2015