During the second half of the 12th century sculptures of knights and ladies started populating churches across the Iberian North. Particularly interesting is the case of Santa María la Mayor de Toro (Zamora) because it features three capitals carved in successive construction stages that can be linked to different traditions. First, in the apse, a victorious knight facing a lady, similar to scenes found in Lleida, León and Santillana del Mar, could be read as a representation of Psalm 44. Later, a capital with a knight and a lady in a farewell embrace was sculpted at the transept, an iconography that can be traced back to a cycle of the Song of Songs from the portal of San Pedro de Villanueva (Asturias). Finally, decades later, another victorious knight with lady was carved at the tower quoting the earlier sculptures. Traditionally interpreted as images of the fight against evil, a reading of these scenes based on Psalm 44 and the Song of Songs, biblical passages alluding to the marriage between Christ and the Church, offers a new perspective on the sculpture program of Santa María la Mayor de Toro.
Marina Aurora Garzón Fernández studied Art History at the University of Santiago de Compostela (2011) where she earned a Masters in Medieval Studies (2013) and obtained her Phd in Medieval Studies (2019) with the thesis “Santa María la Mayor de Toro (Zamora): Church and City (1157-1312)” focusing on the study of Visual Culture in Leon and Castile during the 12th and 13th century. She is currently pursuing her post-doctoral project about paper-cut calligraphy in the Middle Ages at the CRC 933 “Material Text Cultures” at the University of Heidelberg.