Only a few metres from the historic district of Padrón and opposite the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature Camilo José Cela’s Foundation, we come across the majestic Church of Santa María a Maior de Iria Flavia.
The former Episcopal See and considered the first Marian church in the world, the church of Santa María a Maior de Iria Flavia is one of the oldest in Galicia, with St. Agatadoro being the first to occupy the episcopal seat in the year 40 AD. As its name indicates, it is located in Iria, which was made a municipality by Roman Emperor Vespasian; since then it is known as Iria Flavia.
Iria Flavia has witnessed centuries of history and its walls house the accounts that shaped the region that is now called Terras de Iria. Twenty-eight bishop saints are buried here, as shown by the anthropomorphic sarcophaguses that have been discovered in archaeological excavations, as well as other objects. Moreover, in 2002, the remains of the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature Camilo José Cela were buried in the church cemetery; the Padrón poetess Rosalía de Castro was also buried here, according to her wish, although years later her remains were moved to the Pantheon of Illustrious Galicians in Santiago de Compostela.
And naturally, Iria has always been linked to the figure of the Apostle James; it was the bishop of Iria, Teodomiro, who announced the discovery of St. James’ tomb on July 25 in the year 813.