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La Vall de Gallinera

Antic convent dels pares franciscans. Benitaia

The Convent of Benitaia belonged to the barefoot friars of the Order of Saint Francis and was founded on June 11th, 1611, under the patronage of the Duke of Gandia, after the expulsion of the Moors.

The earthquake of 1644 partially destroyed it, but it was rebuilt and inhabited until the disentailments of the 19th century, which left it abandoned.

The convent was located about 150 metres from Benitaia, in the direction of the emblematic Penya Foradada. Currently, only a few remains are left (especially the buttresses on the northern side) that emerge through the walls of a new calvary surrounded by tall cypresses. This enclosure, still of a religious nature, belongs to the parish of Benissivà.

The remains of the chapels correspond to two stations of the Via Crucis that connected Benitaia with the convent, for which a small square was created. It is possible that the current calvary corresponds to the location where the cloister of the old convent was situated, indicating the square as the place where the Via Crucis ended.

The convent also had a reservoir, which was still visible until the early 1990s. Everything was destroyed with the process of agricultural terracing and the remodelling of the area. It is said that the convent had simple architecture and small dimensions, and was built with ephemeral materials, but it is known that it contained a small church where there was a chapel dedicated to Sant Pasqual Bailón.

One of the very few elements that has survived from the time when the convent still existed is a beautiful fountain with two springs, still operational, on which the engraved date of 1741 can be read.
It is also known that the convent had its own cemetery, where, in addition to the friars, those who requested it in their wills could be buried.

Twice a year, on October 4th and March 9th, there is a solar alignment between the convent and the Foradada. Thanks to the research undertaken by José Lull and the publication of his book, it is now clear that the convent was built in that precise location because of this phenomenon. (1)

(1) Torro i Abad, J. (1986) Església i moriscos a la Vall de Gallinera (1578-1583). Aspectes econòmics de l'enfrontament. 1er congrés d'estudis de la Marina Alta.

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