Last week, a fisherman tripped over what he believed was a slimy rock in the Sar River, near Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. The local Galician government now suspect it to be a 700-year old granite sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Child.
“I noticed the stone was square–which is odd in a river–and then I looked at its lines, at the cape, and at the shape of the head,” Fernando Brey told the Voz de Galicia newspaper. “And I said to myself: ‘There’s something here’.”
Authorities pulled it from the river on Monday and it has since been transported to the Santiago Pilgrimage Museum for further analysis. A preliminary investigation had found that the sculpture was a genuine religious relic. According to the Voz de Galicia report, the work is carved in the local Galician style, and appears designed to have been suspended from a wall.
“On both sides of the Virgin, by each of her shoulders, are two angels or putti,” the Galician government said in a statement. “They’re fairly worn away, but you can still make out each of their faces and a hand holding up an object or the Virgin’s own cape.”
Flowers and acanthus leaves are carved into the sculpture base. The face of the Virgin has been destroyed and the Christ figure is headless, in what Galician authorities describe as likely due to an “old impact inflicted in an attempt to desanctify the piece.”
Román Rodríguez, the local minister for culture and tourism in the regional government, said in a statement, “Beyond its cultural and historic value, we’ll also need to try to put together the story of this statue: what happened, and how could it remain undiscovered so close to the city for so many centuries? It must be quite a story.”