San Ginés de Francelos is a charming Visigothic church from the 9th century located near Ribadavia in Galicia
South of Ribadavia near Ourense in Galicia lies a small village, where the local wine, the famous Ribeiro, is grown. Here was a small monastery located and although is buildings are long gone, a small precious chapel may still be visited.
The church has only one nave and measures 8.60 x 5.75 m, built of granite blocks and with a wooden roof. The small tower is from a later period as is the small portico, built in front of the entrance. Of main interest is the façade, which probably sported a carved tympanum, no longer extinct.
The entrance forms a the horseshoe arch, on each side of which are two half-columns decorated with stylised wine-stocks. They end in palm-leaves. On each side are panels, on the left showing the flight to Egypt and on the right Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. On each side of these are two windows. The left is square, while the right has a delicately traced transenna, with two rosettes on top of each other. These are framed by a carefully carved band of rope, surrounded by a branch of vine.
The church is believed to have been built during the reign of the Asturian king, Alfonso III (866 -910). Originally it was dedicated to Maria Magdelen; later it was rededicated to San Ginés (or in Galician: San Xenxo).
Archaeologists have excavated the church, where they found nine tombs cut in granite, which contained the remains of children, but very few grave goods.
Guía del Prerrománico en España
By Jaime Cobreros