In the center of the façade and on the door of the church is the dedication that tries to explain the existence and destiny of the Colegio de Nª Sª de la Antigua. The inscription reads like this:
RODER, CARD´DECASTRO AR
CHEP HSPS TEMPLUM VIRGI
NI MAR COLEG SOCIET.JES. IN M
USZUM IVVET. UT DOTAVIT.
Father Esteban in his magnificent book on the school of Nº Sª de la Antigua makes the following translation:
Cardinal D. Rodrigo de Castro; Archbishop of Seville, donates to the Society of Jesus for the use of the youth temple and school consecrated to the Virgin Mary.
This translation is something free and omits some element and adds others that do not appear in the dedication. Thus, the treatment of “Don” to the Cardinal does not seem to be justified from the inscription itself, as well as the “consecration” of the temple and school to the Virgin Mary.
The abbreviation “M” at the end of the third line is not clarified either. It is also understood that due to the reduced space and the visibility that the text must have from the height of the street, some particles are omitted and words are abbreviated, which in the end ends up causing difficulty in interpreting the text.
On the “Don” it is undoubtedly an addition of Fr. Esteban since it does not appear in the inscription nor is it usual to place it before the name of the cardinals. Similarly, the idea of the “consecration” of the temple does not seem to be justified in the text.
On the “M” at the end of the third line, we see that it is preceded by the particle IN, which translated by “EN” opens up two explanations:
- You can refer to a place. If this is so, the “M” would represent a place and there is no other explanation in this case than to refer to “Monforte”.
- Another explanation with more possibilities would explain the intention of the dedication and we would have to see after the “M” the Latin word Memoriam. IN MEMORIAM, this would be telling us that the inscription is an invitation to remember the Cardinal for what he did.
Therefore, I dare to suggest a new translation of the said dedication, which, without varying much in essence from what Father Esteban indicated, I think is more in line with the literalness of this beautiful stone inscription. It would be like this:
R0DERICUS CARDINAL DE CASTRO, ARCHIEPISCOPUS HISPALENSIS, TEMPLUM VIRGINI MARIAE COLEGIUM SOCIETATIS JESUS IN MEMORIAM USUM IUVENTUTEM UT DOTAVIT
The first option and in the most understandable Spanish
In memory of Rodrigo, Cardinal de Castro, Archbishop of Seville, who donated the Temple of the Virgin Mary and the College to the Society of Jesus for the use of the youth.
The second option would be
Rodrigo, Cardinal de Castro, Archbishop of Seville, who donated to the Society of Jesus in Monforte the Temple of the Virgin Mary and the College for the use of the youth.