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Santa Helena's church
The church of Santa Helena (Saint Helen) has a Pre-Romanesque origin. It was the church of the middle-age town of Santa Creu de Rodes. The singularity of its bell tower stands out. The church was excavated and studied in 1989 and 1991. It was consolidated in 1992.
It is located in the Rodes mountain chain, very near to the western parking area of the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes.
The documents that mention the Church of Santa Creu can be found as early as X century, when it appears in the papal bull of 974 that confirms the properties owned by the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. It also appears in the royal decree of 982 by the king Lotari and in 990 in the papal letter of John XV in favour of Sant Pere de Rodes. 1113 is the year when it is acknowledged as parochial and as the date of the consecration of the church. It continues to appear in documents from XII and XIII centuries as a property of the Monastery of de Sant Pere de Rodes. In 1336, a notary is granted by the Ramon abbot to Bartomeu Peric on the condition that he lives in the town of Santa Creu. In 1455 there are three priests. In 1517 appears for the first time the name of Santa Helena. In 1572 the church is no longer parochial, but sufragan Sant Esteve de Mata of Selva de Mar. The monks of Sant Pere do not accept it until 1593. The abbot Pere-Joan Desgüell tries to impulse the church by forcing the townspeople of Selva de Mar and la Vall to attend mass, receive the sacraments and being buried in Santa Helena. In 1820 the abbot Sant Pere Josep de Viladecans was buried in the church. Popular meetings were held in the church until 1880. After that, the church remains without cult.
The origin of the chapel is Pre-Romanesque, IX or X century, with fragments of opus spicatum that show the age of the building. It has been documented since 974. It surely was expanded and reformed for the XII and XIII century. The ground plan is formed of a nave with a crossing in the form of a Latin cross, and a trapezoidal apse. It is typical from the Pre-Romanesque architecture, the horseshoe arches from the original windows that have been preserved, made of small stones and clay. The belfry is of a following age. It was destroyed by Arab corsairs in 1330 and pillaged at the beginning of XX century, when the main gate was pulled out.
The church is located inside the area of protection of the Cap de Creus National Park, specifically in the category of Natural Landscape of National Interest.
In 1993, it was declared Cultural Property of National interest under the law of Catalan Cultural Heritage.
Badia Homs, Joan; Santa Creu (o santa Helena) de Rodes, dintre de Catalunya Romànica. L' Empordà II. Barcelona: Fundació Enciclopèdia Catalana. 1984