We are in Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María de la Encina y San Juan Bautista, located in the limit between the plain and the high ground of the locality.
Around the year 1740 it was necessary for the neighbors to build a new church that could provide for the demands of religious services and that was better placed than the two parishes existent in that moment. Santa María de la Encina was out of the urban area, and San Juan Bautista was in the northwest side, both in the high part, very isolated, uncomfortable for the neighbors of the plain area and in an advanced state of deterioration.
Despite the many difficulties that the project faced, it could finally be started counting with the donations of the dukes of Béjar and those of the neighbors, whether they were their personal work, hauling materials or alms. Besides the private economic contributions, “El Ejido” was sown and the cork oaks were cut down from the public mountains, their bark taken out in order to help defray the expenses. Its major promoter was the bishop Amador Merino Malaguilla.
Vista aérea de la Iglesia.
Vista exterior de la iglesia.
Leaving aside the economic difficulties, the conflict existent between the parish priests of the churches of Santa María de la Encina and San Juan Bautista delayed the opening of the new parish church. The neighbors, tired of this feud, snatched the keys of the new temple and moved the images, the ornaments, the bells and everything that was in the two old churches, relocating it in the new one.
The parish priests of the old churches took turns for using the new parish for worship, and depending on which bell was ringing, the devoted of Santa María or those of San Juan would come.
In 1824 the bishop Pedro Grajera y Roa declared suppressed the old parish of San Juan Bautista and its jurisdiction was incorporated to the new one, that came to be known since that date Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María de la Encina y San Juan Bautista.
The parish is surrounded by an atrium in three of its four sides, a terrace from which it can be obtained a beautiful panoramic view of the population.
The tower, of baroque style, is located on the western side. It is about 50 meters high, and consists of 3 bodies: in the first one the bells are placed; in the second one the clock is installed; and the third houses the clock bell. It is topped by an iron weather vane, which represents a human figure shooting an arrow.
The church has two entrance doors. The main one, at the foot, is the one facing west, made of marble and finished off with the shield and crown of the dukes of Béjar. Another door is on the south side, also marble, which is accessed by the atrium. In its origin it had another door oriented in the northern part.
With a plant in the shape of a Latin cross, Santa María de la Encina y San Juan Bautista is formed by a single nave with eight lateral chapels and seventeen altars. Next to the west door is the chapel that houses the baptismal font. There we can contemplate those that were originally the baptismal fonts of Santa María de la Encina and San Juan Bautista. The dimensions of the parochial church are 47 meters in length, 21 of latitude, 19 meters approximately of height in the nave and 28 meters in the zone of the transept. Both the temple and the altarpiece are of neoclassic style. At the intersection of the cross, a circular dome gives light to the interior space. The altarpiece of the high altar has a simple ornamentation composed by the image of Saint Peter the Apostle in the upper part; in the central zone the Cristo de la Salud; in the side niches Santa María de la Encina and Saint John the Baptist; and in the lower part San Antonio de Padua and San Pedro de Alcántara, a carving with great artistic value. On the sides of the altar we find the Virgen del Pilar and San Joaquín.
Behind the main altar there is a spacious sacristy that has two doors, one on each side of the presbytery, and an upper floor of the same dimensions. The shape of the church's roof is oval, resting on the arches of the chapels, and surrounded by ornate cornices and moldings.
The Parochial Church of Santa María de la Encina and San Juan Bautista is still the main place of worship where the population receives its sacraments.
Detalle de la torre.