A Pobra do Caramiñal contains in its municipality more than 30 crossroads. Some of them have a very singular artistic and devotional value. These crossroads belong to the cultural heritage of Galicia and its customs. They were signs of the presence of a religious identity on the space and places of worship and veneration. The most diverse legends and stories were forged around them. But all of them pointed to the univocal identity of a people through their ancestors. At the crossroads, in those places where you can choose one path or another, the crossroads reminded the walker of his moral choice in life, that is, the right path or the wrong one. Almost all the crosses bear the cross of the crucified Jesus and his mother Mary on the top, which the people saw as a reference to choose the right path.
We have chosen 9 cruises from Pobra as a sample of their quality.
The first three transepts are chapels and have the following structure: a solid stone base, sometimes in the form of a staircase, a rough shaft not very high above which there is a chapel with an image of the Virgin Mary inside. Occasionally this chapel has the outside walls decorated with specific scenes. Above the chapel there is a cross, with the dead Christ and the Virgin behind the wood. Other times only the empty cross appears.
The chapel is crowned with the image of the crucified and behind it, again, his Mother, this time to represent her as Immaculate. The chapel is surrounded by three reliefs with four figures: a) John the Baptist, forerunner, who announces Jesus, and St. Peter, the stone on which the announcement initiated by the Baptist about Jesus will be sustained in the centuries to come; the representation of John the Baptist points to the lamb of God who is Jesus, and Peter is pointed out by Christ as the stone that supports the Church; b) The Guardian Angel, protector of every Christian, is in charge of guiding and protecting him so that he chooses the right path in life; c) St. Francis, model and path to follow in life to reach Christ (his prominent presence in the cross comes from the hand of the Lordship of Xunqueiras that promoted the construction of the Franciscan monastery in the parish of Xobre in which this crossroads is located). St. Francis appears with the stigmata on his hands and feet, this represents the person who has chosen the right path and therefore deserved to bear the stigmata of the passion in life as the “alter christus”.
Many people insist on dating it to the XVII century or even the XVIII century, just like Xunqueiras. On a simple tiered roof rises a rough octagonal shaft that ends in a simple capital on which rises the niche that houses the Virgin and above the transept with Christ crucified. The virgin is undoubtedly of late Romanesque or Maritime Gothic style, and the crucifix is late Gothic. The Virgin is crowned as a queen, with a beautiful crown like those of the Romanesque carvings; she carries an apple in her hand (this is a Romanesque or Gothic feature). The Virgin and child are in a hieratic, rather rigid position, something more typical of Romanesque than Gothic, and the child is older than a newborn. In spite of their hieratic appearance, both of them transmit a sweet look with their big eyes. Because of all these elements it is difficult to catalog this crossroads in the 17th century. Possibly in the 17th century a recomposition of elements was made to give as a result the current crossroads, but the Virgin and Christ, and also the upper capital of the shaft and the dome of the niche, are undoubtedly earlier pieces that remain in the 17th century for a devotional element of great importance that has reached our days.
The following six crucifixes are representative of the traditional model of crossroads composed of the following elements: a staircase in which is embedded the shaft, tall and slender on which a cross with a crucified Christ is held. Normally, the back of the cross bears an image of the Virgin Mary. In some cases in the middle of the shaft there is a prominent image of the devotion of the place, and in other cases symbolic elements may appear at the start of the shaft.
The crossroads is of great antiquity, probably some of the pieces are close in time to the origins of the construction of the church of Santa Cruz. In the middle of the shaft there is a figure representing a bishop with his crosier, probably Saint Isidore, titular of the archpriesthood of Postmarcos.
It does not seem to respond to the style of the usual crossroads crossroads. It looks more like a signal indicating something specific. It has always been said that this cross was located on the boundary that divides the town of Caramiñal with the town of Pobra del Deán, on the AC-305 road at the point where Rúa da Paz ends and Rúa Gasset begins. Undoubtedly this would be the place to place the sign indicating the end of the jurisdictions of both towns. Probably at this point and sign, the judges, mayors and procurators of each town would leave their symbols of command at the foot of this cross when they wanted to pass to the other town. The crossroads would mark a “no man’s land” in which to leave their attributes of command, and the crossroads itself would be a neutral element without being the property of either manor.
This base is an extension of what surrounds the crossing: a large cemetery. It is a sign of hopeless death. It takes us back to Ezekiel’s prophecies (ch. 37) of the field of dry bones. Hope is strengthened in the shaft that ascends to heaven, indicating that only God can return to life after death. God alone, through his son by means of the cross, as the top of the transept shows. But there is a figure who can intercede, because she is the perfect mediator between man without hope and God: Mary, intercessor, that is why she is placed in an exceptional way, in the middle of the shaft. She is between the dejected and hopeless human being and the crucified Jesus, the architect of a new life, as the prophet Ezekiel points out. This is the sense that was sought to convey with this cruise, very much in dialogue with the location in which it is located. As opposed to the path of life and the following of the person who sees a typical cruise, now we are faced with the reflection of the very moment of death and the experience of directly touching the “dry bones”. This leads to making Mary the protagonist in the middle of the shaft as intercessor so that the bones may be clothed with flesh and promote resurrection.