This diocese is said to date from Apostolic times. It is matter of tradition in the churches of Pamplona, Toledo, and Toulouse (France), that St. Saturninus, disciple of St. Peter, sent from Toulouse the priest Honestus to preach to the inhabitants of Navarre, and later came in person. Finding that Honestus had already made many converts, Saturninus left him in Pamplona. Honestus was the teacher of St. Firminus (son of the senator Firmus), first Bishop of Pamplona. Firminus went later into France, where he was martyred at Amiens. There is no note of any other Bishop of Pamplona until 589, when Liliolus signed as such in the Third Council of Toledo. During the seventh century other bishops are known as signatories of various councils of Toledo. It was not known with certainty whether the Arabs succeeded in establishing themselves in Pamplona (Ferreras affirms and Moret denies it); at all events, there is no record of a Bishop of Pamplona from the Saracen invasion until the reign of Opilanus (829). The old cathedral had meanwhile fallen into ruins, and the bishops now took refuge in the monastery of San Salvador of Leyre (founded in the eighth century). Inigo Arista recovered Pamplona in 848 or 849, and restored the monastery, converting it into a stronghold. This was for a long time the episcopal court and see, and hither Arista had transferred the bodies of the holy virgins Nunilona and Alodia, martyred at Huesca in the time of Abd-er-Rahman II.
It was the wish of Sancho the Elder to introduce into Leyre the Cluniac reform, but the bishops and abbots (e.g. in the Council of Pamplona of 1023) resisted until 1090, during the reign of Sancho Ramirez. In the said council they resolved to restore the See of Pamplona, and decreed that all the bishops of Pamplona should be thereafter of the monastery of Leyre like Sancho I, who then occupied the see. In 1025 the monks of Leyre were affiliated with the canons of Pamplona, and Juan II took the title of Bishop of Pamplona and Leyre, and signed in a number of decrees “Joannes, ecclesiae Navarrensium rector”. Until the reign of Sancho Ramirez (1076-94) Leyre remained the seat of the bishops of Pamplona. The monastery held under its jurisdiction fifty-eight towns and seventy-two religious houses, and was besides the mausoleum of the Kings of Navarre. Theobald I brought Cistercian monks to Leyre, but at the end of the same century the monks of Cluny returned and occupied it for some time. The monastery is now in ruins, and its church serves as that of a rural parish. The see having been reestablished in Pamplona, King Sancho Ramirez (1076-94) procured the appointment as Bishop of Pedro de Roda, monk of St. Pons de Tomières, who built the new cathedral and established a chapter of canons under the Rule of St. Augustine. The bishops of Pamplona, as such, presided over the ecclesiastical order and the three estates that made up the Cortes of Navarre. The cathedral of Santa Maria held the seigniory of the city, and its canons enjoyed the privileges of the royal family. Bishop Sancho de Larrosa consecrated the cathedral, completed in 1124. His predecessor, Guillermo Gastón, had accompanied King Alfonso to the conquest of Saragossa, and there founded the Church of “St. Michael of the Navarrese”.
In the Cathedral of Pamplona is venerated the ancient statue of “St. Mary, the White Virgin” (Santa MarŒØa la Blanca, Santa MarŒØa de la Sede or del Sagrario), which was preserved in Leyre from very ancient times until the eleventh century. There is also a reliquary containing a thorn from Our Savior’s crown, given by St. Louis to Theobald II; likewise the heads of the virgins Nunilona and Alodia, whose bodies were in Leyre. Bishop Pedro de Artajona—known as Pedro of Paris, because it was there he had received his education—obtained from Celestine III (1191) the confirmation of all the privileges of the Church of Pamplona, and procured besides from the Bishop of Amiens a few relics of St. Firmin, whose feast was from this time (1186) celebrated with the same solemnity as the feasts of the Apostles. In 1197 Sancho the Strong ceded his palace to Bishop Garcia. The sovereigns, Donna Juana and Philip of Evreux, recovered it, leaving it in turn to Bishop Arnaldo de Barbazàn; their son, Carlos the Bad, returned it to Bishop Miguel Sanchez de Asiain, and later to Bishop Bernardo Folcant. Since the union of Navarre and Castille, it had been occupied by the viceroys, and is today the headquarters of the Captaincy-General. The bishops resided later in the “Casa del Condestable” (House of the Constable, i.e., of the Duke of Alba) until Bishop Melchor Angel Gutierrez Vallejo commenced the new palace, completed by Francisco III Ignacio Añoa y Busto. In 1317 Jimeno III, Garcia being bishop, Pamplona, formerly a suffragan of Tarragona, became a suffragan of Saragossa. Carlos III the Noble reconstructed the cathedral, and gave it for twelve years the fortieth part of the royal revenues from Navarre. Bishop Martin de Zavala, partisan of the antipope Pedro de Luna, aided in the erection. In 1400 Emperor Manuel Palaeologus gave to the Church of Pamplona a particle of the wood of the True Cross and another of the reputed blue vestment of Our Lord; these relics are preserved in the cathedral. Toward the end of the eighteenth century Bishop Sancho de Oteyza completed the facade. The parish church of St. Saturnioro is a very old structure and has but one nave; not far from this is pointed out the well where the saint baptized his first converts. The parish church of St. Lorenzo was renovated in the eighteenth century, and enlarged by the erection of the Chapel of St. Firminus on the spot where tradition says he was born. The basilica of St. Ignatius of Loyola was erected in the place where that saint was wounded when fighting against the French. In 1601 Viceroy Juan de Cardona had an arch erected with an inscription, and later Count de Santisteban urged the Jesuits to raise the basilica, which was opened on October 10, 1694. Former Dominican and Carmelite convents have been converted into barracks and hospitals, and the convent of St. Francis into schools. The sanctuaries of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier belong to this diocese. That of Loyola contains the old house of St. Ignatius enshrined in a monument constructed by Fontana under the auspices of Queen Mariana of Austria, mother of Carlos II (1689-1738). The sanctuary of St. Francis Xavier, home of the Apostle of the Indies, has been restored by the generosity of the Dukes of Villahermosa (1896-1901). The collegiate church of our Lady of Roncesvalles was founded at the beginning of the ninth century as a hospice for travellers on their way to Compostela or from Spain to Rome and Jerusalem. There are two seminaries in Pamplona, a conciliar and an episcopal. There was also a university, first incorporated with that of Saragossa and in 1745 with that of Alcalà. It was founded in 1608 by resolution of the Cortes of Navarre in the Dominican College of the Rosary, approved by Philip III in 1619, and established by Gregory XV in 1621. Urban VIII in 1623 and Philip IV in 1630 confirmed it. In this university the well-known moralist, Francisco Larraga, was a professor. It boasts of other famous scholars—jurists like Martin de Azpilcueta, historians like the Jesuit Moret, missionaries like Calatayud, and bishops like the Benedictine Prudencio de Sandoval, historian of Charles V.
RAMON RUIZ AMADO