The Sacred Heart of Oseira

“The Sacred Heart of Oseira” is a black and white photograph of a cloister from the Spanish monastery of Santa María la Real de Oseira. It was taken in 2007 by Paul Preece as part of his “Cloisters” series.

It’s an image of interest due to the accidental presence of divine symbols hidden in plain view. The term accidental is used in the sense that the symbols were not added to the image in post-production: the symbols are present on the original 5″x4″ black and white negative.

Can you find them?

The Sacred Heart of Oseira (2007)
The Sacred Heart of Oseira (2007) 100x105cm


The Spanish monastery of Oseira is of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance otherwise known as Trappists. It was built in 1137 in an isolated rural location of Galicia, Spain on the Camino de Santiago. At one time its extensive buildings housed hundreds of monks, today some 13 elderly monks rattle around its endless stone corridors. Contrary to popular belief the Trappists do not have a “rule of silence” although small talk is discouraged. I stayed here for 3 nights and barely got any sleep due to the ringing of its bells throughout the night. It was also a regular spiritual retreat for the English writer Graham Greene.

During the 12th century the Cistercians and the Knights Templar were widely regarded as two sides of the same coin – the one a Catholic monastic order dedicated to retreat and contemplation, the other a Catholic military order based at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is said that the Cistercians and the Knights Templar combined were the worlds first corporation and international bank. Some even go so far as to say they invented capitalism.


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