In the heart of the historic centre of Burgos stands the parish church of Saint Lesmes. It is a temple built thanks to the deep faith and devotion of the people of this city. It has been visited over the centuries by travellers, merchants and countless pilgrims on their way to Compostela to seek moments of reflection and prayer.

We welcome you and invite you to visit this magnificent temple full of history and spirituality. The origin of the Church of Saint Lesmes dates back to the disappeared hospital of Saint John which was founded in 1074 by King Alphonse VI. It was one of the many hospitals in Burgos that offered material and spiritual assistance to the needy of the city and to pilgrims travelling to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James. In 1091 this hospital was taken over by the Benedictine monk Adelelmus, Saint Lesmes for the people of Burgos. Although he came from the Benedictine abbey of La Chaise-Dieu to Castilian lands at the request of Queen Constance of Burgundy to strengthen the spiritual life of the court, he soon retired to this place and dedicated the rest of his life to those most in need.


The church of Saint Lesmes, located outside the walls of the medieval city, is a monument of great architectural and cultural relevance, a living testimony of the unparalleled history of the city of Burgos.

In the place where the hospital chapel was, the primitive church of Saint Lesmes was built. In 1382 it was demolished due to the growing devotion to Saint Lesmes. At the request of the monarch John I of Castile, a new Gothic style temple was built, the one you visit today. During the last years of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, various renovations were carried out. Of these, the flamboyant Gothic doorway that gives access to the temple stands out. It is the work of the Colonia workshop and was executed at the end of the 15th century. This majestic doorway is framed between two buttresses decorated with tall arrows. At the bottom there are two other smaller arrows where we discover an image on each side. They configure the scene of The Annunciation and are images with a lot of movement, close to Renaissance forms. The Virgin Mary, with a vase of lilies at her feet, holds a book in her hand while she places her right hand on her chest, as a sign of acceptance of the divine will. On the right, the Archangel Saint Gabriel, bearer of the heavenly message of The Incarnation. The doors are made of bronze and were donated for the 900th anniversary commemoration. On them are carved some original bas-reliefs with scenes of the life and miracles of Saint Lesmes.

After these historical and artistic data, enter the sacred space. It is a Gothic temple with three naves, a transept that barely stands out in plan and a central nave. The head is raised and lengthened one more section. The side naves are lower in height and preserve the vaults of the primitive church.

We head to the foot of the temple where a superb choir rises, elevated by segmental arches and beautifully decorated. We will begin our visit with the Gospel nave located on the left. In the first section, behind a beautiful lattice, we notice the imposing carving of the Holy Christ that enjoys great popular devotion and belongs to the Brotherhood of Jesus Crucified and the Blessed Sacrament. Veneration of the Crucified is common throughout the Catholic world. The people know that his Faith is anchored in a cross and that on it Jesus freed us from sin and death by giving his life for us.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

Saint John 3, 16

We continue to the head of the nave where the Haro Chapel and the splendid Renaissance-style funerary monument are located. The praying figures of Cristobal de Haro and his wife Catalina de Ayala are kneeling on a kneeler in a curious diagonal arrangement, facing the main altar. In the attic, we see the image of Saint Gregory the Great. As a finishing touch, the figure of the Eternal Father with the ball of the world in his hands. In the adjacent tomb there are the recumbent images of Lesmes de Haro and Isabel de Astudillo. Above them, a beautiful relief of the Immaculate Conception and, crowning the whole, a delicate representation of Calvary. At the bottom are the sepulchral urns with the coats of arms supported by angels. It should be noted that Cristobal de Haro was the promoter of the first expedition to circumnavigate the earth. This adventure was started by Hernando de Magellan in 1519 and was completed by Juan Sebastian Elcano in 1522. At the head is the altarpiece of La Milagrosa, whose effigy occupies the central niche. At the top we see the carving of a black Virgin flanked by the images of Saint Joseph and Saint Francis of Assisi.

The reliefs of the fourteen stations of the VIA CRUCIS occupy the walls of the temple. On many occasions it seems that accompanying Jesus in his Passion and Death ends in the tomb. The Cross is not a defeat, but rather the prelude to the definitive triumph over death that will come with his Resurrection. VIA LUCIS

After this tour of the Gospel nave, we arrive at the head of the temple. In the centre of the central nave is the Sepulchre of Saint Lesmes. It is a work attributed to Luis de Gabeo or to a disciple of Gil de Siloe, such as the Master of Covarrubias. It is a work carried out at the end of the 16th century. Due to the treatment of the fabrics or the «Gothic» expressiveness of the face, it is an archaic composition. The saint is recumbent, with a book in his hands in the attitude of reading it, dressed as a bishop with a bonnet on his head and abbot’s staff. Some remains of the original polychrome are preserved.

Surely you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you!

I Corinthians 3, 16

Now is the time to contemplate the main altarpiece dedicated to the patron saint of Burgos. To admire it in detail, we invite you to take a seat on the front benches or contemplate it from the stairs that give access to the altar. This magnificent altarpiece without polychrome is a baroque work erected in 1750. It rises to the vault and adapts to the polygonal shape of the apse. In the attic, it leaves openings so that the windows in the wall can be seen.

The image of Saint Lesmes Abbot presides over the complex. It is elevated compared to the carvings of the Apostle Saint John and Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and martyr of the 3rd century. Both sculptures occupy the side streets. Crowning this magnificent altarpiece we discover the beautiful and delicate image of the Assumption of Mary that represents the moment in which the Virgin Mary, at the end of her life, is taken to Heaven in body and soul. Four angels transport her to Glory to be crowned Queen of Heaven. The attic is finished with the effigy of Christ Crucified.

The lower part of this sculptural group houses the tabernacle decorated with a relief of the Risen Lord on its door. It is located inside a large display that stands forward in the complex. It is topped by the image of Archangel Saint Michael. The greatest treasure that we can find in the temple, the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle, is in this place. The living Christ has freely saved and redeemed us, given us eternal life and is always at our side.

Jesus is alive in our midst, He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Let’s continue our visit. Be sure to appreciate the three lavish tombs arranged on the left wall. The first belongs to the Castillo-Medina Family. Two recumbent figures rest on a completely emptied semicircular arch. The whole is finished by a Calvary surrounded by fine interlacings.

The second, of unsurpassed beauty, was commissioned by the Burgos merchant Diego de Campo for his daughter Ines, whose recumbent figure covers the sepulchral urn. The upper part is beautifully carved with the image of Saint Christopher. To the right of him, Saint Michael accompanied by a young woman in a praying attitude and to the left of him, Saint Anthony Abbot. Both with the devil at their feet.

The next grave belongs to the Valladolid Family. At the bottom we see the Annunciation. In the opening of the arch that is closed we see Mary with Jesus in her lap, while in the upper part there is a crucified figure on the coat of arms.

We continue to the Salamanca Chapel that occupies the head of the Epistle nave. Here is one of the jewels of this temple, the altarpiece of the Holy Cross. In an inscription placed above the access to the sacristy it can be read that the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Saint Saviour and Saint Andrew was built by the initiative of the Burgos merchant, Garcia de Salamanca. The objective was to have his tomb raised in the centre of the chapel. Currently, the tomb slabs of the founders are on the side wall. The Renaissance tomb belonging to the founder’s brother and his wife is to its right. The remains of other members of the Salamanca family rest in the adjacent one.

You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.

Saint John 18, 37

The Holy Cross altarpiece, dated around the year 1510, is an extraordinary work in the Flemish style made in Antwerp and attributed to the workshop of Jacobus Van Cothem. The whole is embedded in the wall and surrounded by a fretwork carved in stone. It is delimited between pinnacles and is crowned by a Calvary sculpted in wood. Its structure has a bench and body divided into three streets.

It is a set of marked Redemptive character that shows the Passion and Death of Our Lord. In the central part, we contemplate the scene of “Jesus on the way to Calvary. Christ carries the heavy cross helped by the Cyrenean. At the same time, the meeting with Veronica takes place, on whose cloth the image of her exhausted face is printed. It is a highly emotional scene that stands out for the meticulousness in the treatment of dresses and headdresses, typical of the time. Framing the scene are the delicate carvings of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Mary Magdalene, beneath those of Saint Peter and the Apostle Saint James. Meanwhile, at the top are the sculptures of Saint Julian the Hospitable and Saint Catherine. Among them, in a prominent place, we distinguish the smallest effigy of the Archangel Saint Michael. The altarpiece is crowned with a Calvary arranged above the framing arch.

At the bottom, in the centre of the predella, is the relief Crying over the Dead Christ. The Virgin Mary, accompanied by the Apostle Saint John and two of the Holy Women, weeps over the dead body of her Son who lies on the shroud. The figures of the donors flank the scene in a devout attitude of prayer. They are kneeling on a kneeler and accompanied by their respective patrons, Saint Andrew with the cross in a cross and Saint Dominic.

At the foot of this magnificent work, is the baptismal font from the 16th century. For generations, the children of Burgos have received baptism there. The Baptism is the foundation of all Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the gateway to the rest of the sacraments. Through baptism we are freed from sin to be members of Christ and join his Church.

I am telling you the truth, that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.

Saint John 3, 5

We are finishing our visit. We headed towards the back of the temple through the Epistle nave. Two lavish sepulchral altars stand out in it. To the right, attached to the column that supports the transept, is the tomb of Juan de San Martin and his consort. It is crowned by the equestrian image of the donor’s patron saint, Saint Martin, who splits his cloak with a beggar. On the left, the tomb of Diego Carrion. In the attic, three reliefs; “The embrace of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne before the Golden Gate of Jerusalem”, “The Baptism of the Lord” and “The Visitation of the Virgin Mary to her cousin Saint Elizabeth”.

The Calvary complex that takes part every year in the Holy Week of Burgos is on the wall of the transept. Crucified Christ, at the moment of expiration, with his head tilted to the right. Next to him, standing, the Virgin Mary, whose face shows the pain of her mother. On the other side, Saint John, kneeling raising his right hand towards the Cross.

Our visit where we have combined art and spirituality ends. We hope it has been pleasant. Before leaving the temple to continue on your way, we invite you to have a few moments of reflection and prayer. You can praise the Lord in his Eucharistic Presence in the Tabernacle and meditate on the self-giving life of Saint Lesmes and ask for his intercession.

To do this, we put at your disposal some prayers that may be useful. There are also various links to delve deeper into the lives of the Saints that make up altarpieces of the temple.


Enter and navigate the temple.

Prayer to Saint Lesmes Abbot

Almighty and eternal God, who filled the heart of Saint Lesmes Abbot with your love, hear our prayer and give us your love. Following his example, make us discover and serve Jesus Christ, your Son, in our poor and pilgrim brothers. In your school we learn to respond with generosity to the vocation to which you call us, to welcome without prejudice those who come to us and to burn into our minds those words: “Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me”.

Through his intercession, he frees our souls from hatred, selfishness and indifference. Let us all remember that we are pilgrims in this world and that one day we will be judged on love. Give us, Lord Jesus, the Spirit of silence, prayer and penance that filled the life of Saint Lesmes Abbot. In intimate dialogue with you and in participation in the Eucharistic, may we find the strength to sustain and give meaning to our daily work.

That, just as Saint Lesmes distributed bread to the poor, today we also generously share our goods with those in need. May the bread of the Eucharist satisfy all those who seek Him with a sincere heart. Oh God, who wants the salvation of all, give us the pastors, priests, religious and lay people that we need so much. May they be among us missionary disciples and the first witnesses of your love. Mary, pilgrim Virgin and Queen of Peace, obtain love and peace for our world. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Lesmes

Oh apostle, distinguished for charity and monastic life, glorious Saint Lesmes Abbot, who extended your zeal for the salvation of your neighbour and remedy for his needs; Reach out to us from the divine Apostle of our souls, Christ Jesus, a true spirit of charity so that we give ourselves unreservedly to the practice of works of mercy, in order to be part of those of whom it is written: «Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.» Amen.

Pilgrim blessing

O God, you brought your servant Abraham out of the city of Ur of the Chaldeans, kept him on all his pilgrimages, and were the guide of the Hebrew people through the desert.

For this reason, we ask you, through the intercession of Saint John of Ortega, before whose grave we are, to deign to guard these children of yours who, for the love of your name, make a pilgrimage to Compostela.

Be a companion on the road for them, guide at the crossroads, breath in tiredness, defence in danger, shelter on the road, gentle breeze in the heat, shelter from the cold, light in the dark, comfort in their discouragements and firmness in their purposes so that, with your help, they reach the end of their journey well and, enriched with graces and virtues, they return home safe and sound, filled with eternal joy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The temple is God’s house and ours. Let’s collaborate to keep it worthy. If you want to collaborate in the conservation of the Parish of San Lesmes Abad de Burgos, make a donation.

Self-financing is the challenge that all Catholics must take on, since the maintenance of our community is in our hands. This is done through family subscription, which is comfortable, stable and deducts taxes in the Income Tax Return.