Apparitions in Late Medieval
and Renaissance Spain
William A. Christian, Jr. 
Chapter 1: Late Medieval Apparitions in Castile
Introduction: Rural Life and Religion

[10] In the eighth century, Moslems from Africa rapidly conquered most of Iberia. Over the succeeding seven hundred years, the Christian monarchies of Castile, Navarre, and Aragon slowly regained sovereignty over the peninsula, and by 1400 only the kingdom of Granada was under Moslem control. Castile's overall prosperity in the fifteenth century can be measured by the kingdom's expansion southward and overseas. For all but the front-line populations of central Andalusia, then, life in Castile was securely Christian. But it was not altogether peaceful. In the first half of the fifteenth century, the king of Navarre, allied with dissident Castilian nobles, made regular raids into New Castile, operating from forts near Guadalajara.

Individual Castilian monarchs had gained power and wealth in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and built royal fiefs governed by military orders in New Castile. Royal power was limited, however, by a small number of noble families who controlled vast, fragmented domains in the north and central parts of the kingdom. Other centers of wealth and authority included cities such as Segovia, under whose jurisdictions fell numerous surrounding villages; dioceses such as Toledo with substantial patrimonies; and certain monasteries such as Guadalupe with extensive landholdings and large flocks of sheep.

Wool was Castile's chief export, and its large transhumant flocks were administered by an association of herdsmen under royal protection. Some of the wool from the Mesta flocks was woven in Spain for local use, as was almost all of the wool from village flocks. Woolen cloth production in fifteenth-century Castile was widespread and decentralized. In almost all of the towns and villages where apparitions took place, there were sheep, shepherds, carders, and weavers.

The settlement type can still be seen in Castile's densely packed nuclear villages and towns. From figures in sixteenth [11] century records it would appear that in the fifteenth century most settlements north of Toledo and south of the Cantabrian mountains ranged from ten to sixty households. Those on the plains of New Castile, south of the Tagus River, were substantially larger, some of them essentially rural settlements with what for the time were urban-sized populations of 500-1,000 households.

The modern distinction between city and country is difficult to apply to fifteenth-century Castile. There were towns of 5,000 inhabitants that were farming communities; and there were smaller communities with large contingents of artisans that were much less agricultural. In many of the hamlets around Toledo, Segovia, and Cuenca, cloth production predominated; others specialized in tanning and carting. Certain rural towns served as headquarters for the large feudal families, with a small court, bureaucracy and archives, and perhaps a family-supported convent. It was in this kind of mini-city--Escalona (Toledo), Pastrana (Guadalajara)--that some of the unorthodox religious movements at the beginning of the sixteenth century were nurtured. The towns from which the military orders administered their territories, Uclés (Cuenca), Alcázar de San Juan (Toledo) and Daimiel (Ciudad Real), had a similar structure.

The most socially complex were the diocesan seats. Toledo, Valladolid, Segovia, and Burgos were the largest towns of central Castile, rich in industry and convents. On a second level would be the smaller commercial centers, also diocesan seats or vicarates, of León, Avila, Alcalá, Talavera, Cuenca, and Jaén, all with populations of from 10,000 to 15,000 persons.

The visions studied here took place in settlements representative of the region. Some occurred in the poorer hamlets in mountainous regions where sheepherding was a prime occupation (Navalagamella) or was combined with cloth production (Navas de San Antonio). Most of them, however, took place in the mixed economy of the richer farmlands, where livestock raising was combined with vineyards and grain fields. These ranged in size from small villages in the north (Santa Gadea, Escalona in Segovia, Cubas) to larger agro-towns in La Mancha (Quintanar de la Orden, Santa María de los Llanos, El [12] Toboso) where significant numbers of the population may have been engaged in cloth production, and two small diocesan cities--Jaén and León.

Although Jews are nowhere mentioned in the vision episodes, and certainly there is no hint that any of the seers were conversos, our view and interpretation of the visions are inevitably colored by the persecutions that were going on in the region. Antisemitic sentiment had slowly increased from the mid-thirteenth century on, and the Jewish quarters of Castile were assaulted in 1391. In the following years, Saint Vincent Ferrer and other mendicant preachers were responsible for the coercive conversion of Jews in Castile as well as Catalonia, but many were converts in name only. When some monarchs protected the converts, these privileges were resented. There was a popular movement against converso merchants in Toledo in 1449, and brutal persecution of crypto-Jews began in the 1470s, first with diocesan investigations, then in 1483 with the new Spanish Inquisition. Unconverted Jews were formally expelled in 1492, but persecution of converts continued through the eighteenth century.

From the documents referring to visions, we get glimpses of what the ordinary, sacramental, religious life of country people was like. Villages were generally coterminous with parishes. In some there were a number of clergy, in others simply a substitute placed by the titular priest, who lived in the city. In general the farther north on the central meseta, the more clergy relative to population. This rule of thumb applies today, in the sixteenth century, and probably held in the fifteenth century as well. (1) Some of the largest towns of La Mancha had only one parish.

Formal religious practice of laypersons was probably similar to that today. The wife of a carder in Quintanar de la Orden in 1523, Francisca la Brava, was considered to be of average devoutness by her neighbors. She normally attended mass, except in bad weather or when she had to care for her children; she fasted half of the days of Lent (this may be above average), the vigils of feast days, and a few of the tempora (the days at the beginning of the four seasons). She confessed and received [13] communion once a year, and knew three prayers well: the Ave Maria, the Pater Noster, and her own bedtime prayer. All of the seers who were asked what prayers they knew, including not especially devout eight- and nine-year-old boys in Catalonia, knew the Ave and the Pater, but even a girl known for her devoutness knew little else.

Sacramental religion attracted only part of the people's religious attention. As in all of Christendom, Iberian villages and towns had their special places, times, and techniques for getting in touch with the saints. Each had a set of particular saints they were accustomed to call on for help, and who sometimes called on them.

This set of saints was usually a combination of specific local saints, who served as general protectors for the community, and specialized saints who were venerated widely because of their special expertise. The general protector might be a specific image of Mary or Saint Anne (like Our Lady of Batres) or the body or relic of a saint (like Saint Macarius, of Boadilla del Monte). Only rarely would it be the titular saint of the parish church. The specialized saints might include, in fifteenth-century Castile, Sebastian (for the plague), Quiteria (for rabies), Anthony the Abbot or Anthony of Padua (for livestock), and Blaise (for sickness). But each town would experiment with different helpers and different specialties, coming up with its own unique, provisional, pantheon.

If they were identified through images, the most powerful protector saints would most likely be venerated in shrines in the countryside. If they were identified through bodies or relics, they would be kept safe from theft in parish churches or monasteries. The rural shrines, most of which survive today, were situated in particularly striking locations: near holy springs; on the sites of old castles; in parish churches of abandoned towns; or at fords in rivers.

Mary was the most important saint in terms of the number of images and district or regional shrines. As the use of images spread through the West in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Mary's popularity as a helping saint gradually eclipsed most of the great healing shrines based on the bodies and relics of [14] martyrs, hermits, and holy bishops. First in cathedrals and monasteries, then in rural chapels, Marian shrines became the centers of practical religious devotion based on vows. The network of Marian shrines popular in present-day Spain was by and large in place by the end of the fifteenth century, except in Galicia, where the cult of other saints held out the longest and is still strong today.

Communities contacted their saints most in times of crisis. But the relations in crisis, if effective, would be transformed into annual, calendrical devotion. (2) For example, when a town feared the approach of the plague, it might vow to a saint that if the town was spared it would observe the saint's day. In 1575 most towns and villages in New Castile observed at least three or four of these specially vowed days. The vows were made solemnly by the government of the village, usually in public assembly, and often transcribed by notaries as a formal contract. Penalties for households who did not send a member to the saint's procession or persons who worked on the day, would be specified. By canon law such vows were binding on the village in perpetuity, unless dispensed by the bishop. In fact, from the early sixteenth century, if not before, the bishops of Castile dispensed these vows, but the villagers, responding to a higher law, generally observed them anyway, sometimes at the expense of the holy days ordered by Rome or the diocese.

Village relations with saints, then, were a series of obligations, many of them explicit and contractual, not unlike their obligations to secular lords. They involved the villagers' sacrifice of work time and offerings. They also involved the religious regulation of eating, often a combination of fasting on the saint's vigil and consumption of animal protein in public feasts, called caridades, on the saint's day or the day the saint helped them. These laws of consumption seem to be an extrapolation from Lenten fasting and Easter feasting, the honoring of a chosen saint's death and glorification.

Apparitions were one of the ways that new saints were brought into this system or devotions to old saints were revived. Community pantheons were always in a state of flux, with [15] saints losing or gaining popularity according to their efficacy and national and international fashion. Saints were brought in in other ways. The most common was probably trial and error: saints were asked for help serially and the one that worked gained in devotion. Another way was the propagation of devotion to a given saint by local holy people, whether hermits or preachers.

Some kinds of initiatives seemed to come from the saints themselves. Even without appearing, saints constantly communicated their availability and benevolent interest through the obscure language of signs. This language might involve what some people call coincidence: a striking portent on a given saint's day. Or it might be a striking miracle worked by a saint to whom no one was paying attention. Or the signs might be provoked, in the form of lotteries--seeing which saint's candle burned longest or which saint's name was drawn three times from a bag.

To the villagers, then, both communities and saints were reaching out to communicate with one another. By use of assorted petitionary procedures and the alert observation of the correspondences and conjunctions of abnormal events, times, and places, villagers continually contacted and identified their celestial advocates. Apparitions, of course, were an unequivocal solution to this problem. Frequently they not only showed who the saint was but also solved the difficult riddle of exactly what the saint wanted. For communities involved in a relentless series of epidemics and crop failures, this was a matter of life and death.

Around the most venerated images and places in the countryside oral traditions formed that explained why a given image or place was powerful and helpful. These local traditions or legends would have been known by village visionaries. The local legends of Catalonia and Castile shared a basic pattern and are most easily discussed together. Unfortunately they were not recorded systematically until the seventeenth century in Catalonia and the sixteenth century in New Castile.

From 1651 to 1653 a Dominican from Girona, Narciso Camós, [16] personally visited all of the major Marian shrines in Catalonia. In addition to describing each shrine image in detail and listing the towns that annually visited the shrine, he carefully noted the story told about each shrine's origin. His book devotes separate chapters to each of 182 different shrines, largely located in isolated chapels and convents. In addition he listed 420 parish churches, 83 additional convents, and 333 additional chapels dedicated to Mary. His survey was published in 1657; its most recent edition was in 1949. (3)

What were the shrine legends when Camós made his survey? First of all (and this encourages trust in his reporting) about a quarter of the shrines (45 out of 182) had no legends. Pious Camós "supposed" that the origin of these shrines was miraculous, but unlike some of the chroniclers of Castile, he did not make up legends. For the 137 shrines for which he gave legends, all but twelve of the stories fall into one of two categories--the miraculous discovery of images (111 cases); and apparitions (14 cases). In six hybrid cases, an apparition led to the discovery of the statue.

The Catalan discovery legends essentially follow the Monte Gargano pattern. Through the mediation of male domestic animals, especially oxen or bulls, a herdsman is alerted to the presence of an image in a wild location: underground or in a cave, in a tree or some wild plant, or in a spring. The herdsman or the priest and townspeople try to take the image to the parish church, but it returns by itself to its hiding place, and eventually a chapel is built for it there. The accompanying tabulation indicates the frequency of each step in this process, among the 117 finding legends.

Statistics compiled from legends reported by Narciso Camós in Jardín de María, a survey of 182 shrines made 1651-1653 in the dioceses of Tarragona (22), Barcelona (30), Girona (19), Tortosa (9), Lleida (12), Urgell (33), Vie (15), Elna (15), Solsona (15), and the Priories of Ager and Meya (7). There is little significant difference in the distribution of legend types or motifs among the different dioceses.
117 Discovery of image 
  14 Apparition without discovery of an image
    6 Other origin
  45 No legend given
95 Human intermediary indicated 
22 Human intermediary not indicated
62 Animal indicated location
15 Other signs
40 No signs given
67 Male herders  1 charcoaler
10 Female herders 1 hermit
4 plowmen 1 slave
4 noble hunters 1 villager
2 female woodcutters 1 peasant couple
1 male woodcutter 1 noble couple
1 carter
young old total
male    8 73 81
female 10 2 12
couples   0 2 2
18 77 95
50 Male animals  57 Domestic animals
2 Female animals  2 Wild animals
10 Sex not indicated  3 "Animals"
34 Oxen 3 Dogs and prey
15 Bulls 2 Crows
1 Bull and cow 3 "Animals"
1 Bull and ram
1 Sheep
1 Lamb
1 Goat
Natural sites: 80  Quasi-societal sites: 8
32 Cave or underground 2 Buried in vineyard 
17 Tree 1 In buried chapel 
13 Spring 1 Grave in church
7 Plant 1 Fallen house
4 Hilltop 1 Well
3 Other 1 Well in field
1 Garden
*but note: 6 of these are underground, and the house was abandoned
32 By the image returning to the site
3 By the image becoming too heavy to move 
1 By an alternate chapel collapsing
When one considers that these images mediate between the local society and the forces of nature (both in terms of weather, insect devastation, and disease, and the world behind the real world, the world of birth and death), then the legends of their [19] discoveries are explicable. The images of the mother with child, symbol of the creative power of nature within the human body itself, are embedded in the countryside. But not just anywhere. They are located at entry points in nature for matter from other worlds. Trees and mountain tops are connections to the sky; caves and springs connections to an underworld. The shrine images, which serve to transmit the human energy of love, prayer, promise, and gift, and return the energy of nature or God in the form of consolation, grace, and miracle, are discovered in the wild world at logical places for supplication and propitiation of the outside forces.

The intermediaries that locate the images and inform the society are themselves half-wild and half-domestic. Most of the statues are found by animals. But in only five of sixty cases is the animal wild. Three of those five exceptions are wild animals (rabbits and deer) that are followed by domestic animals (dogs), which are in turn leading hunters. Domestic animals that frequent the wilds are a part of nature built into culture. Bulls are perhaps the wildest and least controllable of domestic animals. In households without bulls, oxen, used for plowing, would be the wildest.

Stephen Sharbrough has analyzed the symbolic meaning of bulls in the cult of mother goddesses, particularly the Matronae, in pre-Christian Europe, and believes these Catalan legends hark back to the earlier beliefs. The special relationship that Christian culture created for the bull (at the manger) as in the Apocryphal Gospel of Saint Matthew, he points out, "would be recognized when Christianity moved into regions where the bull held a traditional symbolic role." (4)

The bull is an appropriate intermediary between culture and nature; so too is the herdsman. Uncultivated monte abounds in all but the richest areas of Spain. It bears a heavy cognitive charge as wilderness, a kind of spatial equivalent to darkness and night. Few people have occasion to enter it--woodcutters, hermits, hunters, charcoal burners, and, most of all, the herders. The herders are the society's interface with nature and know its ways best. They are the most "wild" of the people.

Why are the animals that find the statues, and the people [20] who find the animals, males? While the image that actually works the transformations of culture and nature is female, we cannot forget that it represents divinity. It is not a woman. The intermediary between it and the culture is male, down to the animals, as are most intermediaries between societies in Mediterranean culture. (5) Only twelve of the many finders are women, and of these, ten are girls, not women. The proportion is reversed for men--overwhelmingly adult, not boys. The less "womanly" the seers, the more they are likely to be accepted as intermediaries with the sacred. Hence girls more than women, boys more than girls, and men more than boys.

Once the image has been found, the society tries to appropriate it, as if it were a relic that needed to be protected in the parish church. The image refuses. From the shepherd's pouch, from locked chests, from the village church, the image returns to its site in the countryside. Generally if the villagers try to build its shrine away from the difficult place where it was found, it rejects that also. On the Cantabrian coast, from Guipúzcoa to Asturias, this rejection takes the form of the nocturnal moving of construction materials to the discovery site. In France the construction collapses overnight (of this there is one case in Catalonia, in French Cerdegna). The dominant pattern in Catalonia and central Spain is the return of the image.

These returns implicitly instruct the people that in order to deal with nature they must go to it. I believe what was partly involved was a paganization (from pagus, country) of Christianity--a kind of encoded recapitulation of the process by which rural pre-Christian notions of a sacred landscape reasserted themselves over an initially cathedral- and parish-church-centered religion.

Consider the difference between the scenarios of the discovery of saints' bodies and the discovery of holy statues. Both were ways communities obtained protectors. But the relics were usually found in settled areas, often urban graveyards, or perhaps removed from other churches or monasteries. And that, sociologically, is where they stayed. Because relics were mobile, they could be kept at hand, in society. The physical presence of once-human saints provides a society with links to its own [21] moral heritage. In the first centuries of Christianity, as Peter Brown has shown, the cult of saints' bodies was a radical break from pre-Christian religion, whose heroes, once dead, peopled another world. (6)

The legends of discoveries of statues, although in some ways they resemble the earlier inventio of saints, perform an altogether different task, one appropriate for rural society. (7) They serve to explicate, not the society's relation to its history and the Christian world, but rather its relations with nature, and provide a valid intermediary or ambassador. The return of the image to its natural setting is the image saying, "No. I am not a relic; think again. Holy people you can move; I am showing you a holy place. You must face me there."

The preponderance of underground locations for these Marian statues, in particular, supports the notion of Mary's role as successor to mother goddesses dealing with fertility. In the thirteenth century when this transformation was taking place, Alfonso el Sabio, or the theologians around him, made this point at some length in Law 43 of the Setenario--"About how those who worshipped the earth, really meant to worship Saint Mary, if they understood it well." He draws the parallel between the earth that bears fruit and Mary who bore Jesus. His focus was on the fruit, Jesus, just as the Romanesque images Camós described show Mary presenting Jesus, and Jesus with the power. In that theology Mary was the ground from which the good things and the power sprung. The emphasis on the child-God on Mary's lap did not last for long. Mary became the central figure in these shrines. The legends of the discovery of statues in the earth and their worship in caves was a concrete connection between Mary and the earth that matched the symbolic connection made by the author of the Setenario. (8)

With few exceptions the stories of discoveries of images were reported by Camós as taking place in a remote and unidentified past. Eduard Junyent, canon-archivist of Vie, believed the legends were formed in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, although there is little real proof. (9) The legends of Montserrat and Nuria, which include episodes of the discovery of images, existed in the fifteenth century at least. There is a good chance that the [22] legends in Camós already existed when the first documented apparitions took place.

A few of the Catalan discovery legends are combinations of findings and apparitions. Except for the fact that they ultimately involve finding images, they are very similar to the apparitions we can document. Most occurred to single shepherd girls, others to a carter whose wagon became mired and to charcoal burners. The signs that made them believable were the curing of crippled hands, three cases of hands fixed to cheeks, and the talking of a mute girl. The fact that these apparitions involve the finding of statues indicates that they, like the other discoveries, are probably legendary and not historical episodes. If they were "real" findings, there would not have to be an elaborate physical proof, as in an apparition; and if they were "real" apparitions, there would be no statue to be found.

The hybrid legends of apparition-findings suggest that "real" apparitions both in Castile and Catalonia ultimately served the same purpose as the finding legends; they were charters for relations between the village and the natural world. The seers, like the legendary discoverers of statues, were privileged intermediaries who introduced a people to its God, its holy place, and its holy times.

Camós reported fourteen cases of apparitions proper. Three were apparitions to people in battle against the Moors, a motif common in reconquest and Crusade chronicles; three were apparitions of preexisting images in the course of miracles (1348 and 1598, both plague years, and 1620). Two of the others, apparently legendary, were heavenly matins processions similar to the cases of Santa Gadea and Jaén (Our Lady of the Cinta, Tortosa, and Our Lady of Puiglagulla, Villaleóns); and the remaining six, studied below in Chapter Two, were historical apparitions.

Castilian shrine legends were similar to those of Catalonia. Unfortunately in Castile a systematic survey of legends was never taken. The earliest collective source, and the only one uncontaminated by the forgeries of false chroniclers in the seventeenth century, is the responses sent by villages to royal historians in the 1570s. This survey of historical, social, and [23] geographical information covered only New Castile, the area of south-central Spain between the Sierra de Guadarrama and the Sierra Morena. (10) About 500 villages from this region replied, and about twenty-five of them sent in legends, which were not specifically asked for.

About half of the stories the villages sent in described the discovery of images. As in Catalonia, the discoverers (when mentioned) were men (shepherds, knights, plowmen). Although no oxen or bulls were mentioned, other domestic animals (a dog, horses) played a role. The sites, like those of Catalonia, were outside villages in the realm of nature--underground, in caves, by springs, or in trees. In several legends the image returned to the place where it was found. This pattern applied to other female saints--Anne, Bridget, and Mary the Egyptian, as well as to Mary.

Fifteen apparitions or apparition-discoveries were mentioned in the village reports. (11) Mary appeared in most of the visions, and Saints Blaise, Gregory, Lucy, and Vincent each appeared in one village. In several cases the legend was only vestigial:

They say that Our Lady appeared to a shepherd [Almona-cid de Toledo]

It is believed that [Saint Gregory] appeared to a good woman [Fuenlabrada, Madrid]

In others the vision was given in condensed form:
The Virgin herself appeared there and ordered the priest and the people of Hontova to build her a chapel where it is now and call it Santa María de los Llanos. [Hontova, Guadalajara]
And, in a few, the story was given in detail. The town of Daimiel (Ciudad Real) sent in a long story in verse about a boy from Moral de Calatrava in 1465, whose horse fell down with a load of wheat on the way to the mill. The boy called on Mary for help, and she appeared to him, telling him his wheat was already ground and he should return home and tell his father to tell the town of Daimiel to build a shrine called the Crosses on the spot she appeared. The youth complained he would not be believed, and the Virgin said there would be candles burning on the site as a sign.

The boy and his father went to the chancellery (of the diocese of Toledo?) in Ciudad Real and told the story. But when the authorities went to the site, they found nothing, and so they beat the boy and hung him from a tree. The Virgin saw his plight "from the sky" and quickly came down to release him. The boy called the authorities back and pointed out to them both the candles and the footprints left by the Virgin. They believed him and built the chapel. The boy became a priest and was eventually buried in the shrine.

The people of Daimiel gave a vision as the origin of another chapel as well.

Each of the two stories from Daimiel (which I have not been able to confirm with documents) has themes in common with visions we can document--the conjunction of visions and the plague, the Virgin helping with mundane tasks, and saints leaving footprints. Whether or not they actually happened, stories such as these would have been known to the Castilian seers in the fifteenth century. In Castile as well as Catalonia, the idea of a villager having a vision of this kind was not unheard of.

On the other hand, I would hesitate to say that "real" visions were common. Most of the apparition stories both in Castile and Catalonia were given as mere traditions ("se dice . . . ") without mention of date or documentation. Their numbers are small to begin with, and doubtless many of them, like the discoveries of statues, were myths. My guess is that real apparitional episodes that led to ongoing devotions occurred in the historical memory of one in a hundred villages in both regions.

The cases presented below, thus, are accounts of unusual phenomena for the seers and for the towns in which the apparitions took place. Scholars have been misled, I think by monastic literature, into seeing the late Middle Ages as a period in which the divine presence was so common it was banal. An analyst of French Christmas plays written by priests, in which shepherds react to the apparition of the Angel Gabriel "simply filled with great joy" extrapolates to the culture at large--"there is no emotion, or at least no doubt when confronted with the [26] supernatural"--to confirm Lucien Febvre's dictum, "for the men of the sixteenth century there was no mystery." (12)Shepherds in a play are one thing. Real shepherds face to face in the fields with the supernatural were something else. For the people who had these visions, they were not at all banal. They experienced terror and awe as well as joy, and doubt as well.

Legends become banal by repetition and replication. But when they suddenly become incarnate in real events, when they are experienced by neighbors or countrymen, the well-known mythic referents heighten rather than dampen emotion. This happens to even casual participants in rituals and dramas. How much more so when persons are surprised by a real epiphany.

Precisely because these visions were so out of the ordinary-- something on the order of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption--they were documented, and the documents were preserved and recopied over the years.

Santa Gadea (Burgos), 1399

The two oldest apparitions for which documents are known are more similar to each other than to any of the later cases. The first supposedly took place in 1399, the second in 1430. Santa Gadea del Cid is a small village near the border of Álava in the present-day province of Burgos. There a shepherd boy claimed before priests, village authorities, townspeople, and notaries that he and his companion saw the Virgin Mary. The earliest extant transcription is a large parchment in the National Historical Archive in Madrid made sometime after 1471. Since of all the cases I have studied, it is the most allegorical, and since it may have served at some time to buttress the shrine's claims on and independence from the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla, one must entertain the possibility that the apparition story was concocted years after it supposedly took place. On balance I tend to think not, but readers can form their own opinions by reading it in its entirety.

[27] Chronology

seers: Pedro, son of Yñigo Garda de Arbe
    ]uan, son of Juan de Enzinas
place: Santa Gadea del Cid (Burgos)

1) Tuesday, March 25, 1399 Pedro and ]uan found a honey tree while tending sheep,

2) Wednesday [March 26], they returned late at night to gather the honey and wax, and saw a bright lady and a procession.

3) Thursday [March 27], Pedro alone saw Mary, who explained the previous vision and gave him instructions for the town.

4) Sunday night [Easter, March 30], Mary appeared with monks and had Pedro beaten for not delivering her message. The neighbors were aroused by Pedro's cries, and he asked to have a town meeting convened, where he told his story.

The notarized version of his testimony was made Monday, April 20, 1399.

In my translations of documents I have divided them into sentences and paragraphs, modernized the spelling of proper names and added quotation marks. I have also attempted to mitigate the legalese, cutting back on repetitions and transforming the adjective dicho ("said") into "that," "the," or omitting it entirely. For the sake of clarity I have occasionally capitalized pronouns referring to Mary, and for the sake of brevity I have sometimes omitted preliminary and final matter of a legal nature, which can be read in the Spanish texts in the appendices.


This is a copy of testimony taken in the town of Santa Gadea as written on parchment and signed by a notary public.

Witnesses named at the end of this document included two parish priests, two other clergymen, the alcalde, and five other citizens, one of whom was a scrivener, Ferrán Martines.

A bull of indulgences obtained in 1404 from the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, implicitly supports the apparition story, for it states that pilgrims were especially numerous on what would [33] have been the anniversaries of the visions; ". . . it is believed by the faithful that many noteworthy miracles are being performed, and every year a multitude of faithful Christians gather out of devotion on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Holy Week." (15)

The Virgin had not merely asked for a shrine; she wanted a Benedictine monastery. The chief promoter of a monastery was a priest, Ruy Martines, listed as present when Pedro gave his testimony. In 1406 he secured an agreement with the prior of the powerful Benedictine monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla, located about seventy km. to the south. San Millán would cede property in villages surrounding Santa Gadea to the new monastery, and the prior of Santa Gadea would sit in the San Millán chapter. The Santa Gadea priests then secured papal permission to found the monastery. Benedict XIII's bull, dated 1406, mentions the "maravillas" and "virtudes" that have already taken place at the chapel, and grants indulgences to those who help build the monastery and maintain the monks. (16)

When the priests came back to San Millán with papal approval, the San Millán prior went back on his word; the dispute was arbitrated in 1410 by the prior of another monastery, San Juan de Obarenes, in favor of the Santa Gadea priests. In the documents of this dispute, there is no mention of an apparition, although the chapel is described as "recently founded." If the apparition did, in fact, take place, it was not considered something that would sway the prior of San Millán in a legal dispute.

In sum, a monastery was set up within a few years of the supposed apparition after marvels and miracles had taken place on the site, by a priest listed as present at the telling of the vision. Pilgrims were coming especially on the anniversaries of the apparition days. The earliest extant version of the apparition document was made some time after 1471.

Whether it is a true vision or a pious forgery, the apparition story is rich in mythic references. There is the obvious parallel to the drama of Holy Week. The shepherds are named Pedro and Juan, Peter and John, the two most beloved apostles. Pedro, by not telling his story, denies his lord, and after the second rooster crow on Sunday morning, which is Easter, he is forced [34] to confess. But this is a revised version of the Passion, one appropriate to late medieval Europe. It is Mary, not Christ, whom Peter denies. The drama of rejecting and then accepting the epiphany of Mary and the martyrs is played out over Holy Week. The establishment of a new shrine with local protectors is a kind of replication of Christ's rejection and his eventual triumph on the Cross.This kind of modified replication is found in many of the earlier shrine legends. Statues were supposedly found by oxen or shepherds after strange lights and music showed the way. All of these items parallel the story of the birth of Christ; and, indeed, these are generally statues of Mary holding the Christ-child. But it is Mary herself who is referred to as being found, at least as the stories were told from the sixteenth century on. The gospel was replayed in local mythology with Mary, not Christ, at the center. Each village becomes a Nazareth.

Allegorically, Pedro is not only one of the shepherds to whom the angels announced the birth of Christ and Peter the Apostle who denies his God, he is also Moses, to whom God appeared in the burning bush.

Mary tells Pedro that his friend Juan should take up the arms of Saint Catherine, and that he would die within nine days of arriving at her grave from Jerusalem. The alleged relics of Saint Catherine in the Sinai desert are in a monastery built by the Emperor Justinian on the site of the burning bush, at the foot of the mountain where Moses received the tablets of the law. This monastery was dedicated to Mary until the early fourteenth century, when it became known as Saint Catherine's. In the fifteenth century the memory of the previous Marian dedication was still alive to the pilgrims who came from Western Europe. (17)

A ninth- or tenth-century icon at the shrine appears to show Mary surrounded by the burning bush holding the Christ-child, who presumably represents the God speaking to Moses in the verses of Exodus. (18) By the fourteenth century, there was also a legend of a separate apparition of Mary to the monks. (19) The apparition at Santa Gadea borrows aspects of the apparition of Mary, and the reference to the burning bush of the shrine in the Sinai.[35] Again, as with the Passion and the Nativity, there has been a transformation. In the burning bush God speaks to Moses; and in the earliest iconographic representations Mary merely presents the Christ-child, who presumably speaks. But our apparition text makes no mention of a child. Mary refers to her son as the one who makes decisions, but she speaks for him, and she alone appears to Pedro and Juan, another instance of the Marianization of biblical patterns.

The symbolism of the hawthorn (the earliest blooming tree) as the burning bush, and the use of the biblical story as a pattern for medieval legends of apparitions of Mary was common in France. The great Gothic church of Notre Dame de 1'Epine, outside of Châlons-sur-Marne, is one of the most prominent shrines of France. It was built at the same time that the shrine of Santa Gadea came into being--the first decade of the fifteenth century. E. Misset has shown that the French shrine was constructed by Canons Regular of Saint Augustine of Saint Victor, possibly because their foundation was ratified there. Hugh of Saint Victor, Richard of Saint Victor, and Adam of Saint Victor all devoted attention to the symbolism of the hawthorn in relation to Mary. For Hugh of Saint Victor she was the flower blooming out of the thorns of the Jewish race; in a later formulation the bush that burns but is not consumed is the perpetual virginity of Mary before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus. (20)

Notre Dame de 1'Épine has a legend remarkably similar to that of Santa Maria del Espino. On March 24, 1400 (virtually the same day, a year later), two shepherd boys saw Mary on a brightly lit tree. They fainted; when they awoke they found a statue in the tree. Villagers, drawn by the light, came in procession. Misset speculates convincingly that the legend, first mentioned in 1633, arose from a misinterpretation of an engraving and a stained glass window, which showed Moses in two poses before the burning bush. The misinterpretation was that it was not Moses twice, but two shepherds. (21) As recent iconographic evidence from the Sinai suggests, the image of Mary in the hawthorn or burning bush may not be a metaphorical invention of twelfth-century theologians, but rather [36] an emblem of Marian devotion at the shrine to the burning bush in the Sinai, which the theologians later explicated. The Santa Gadea story, although it is late, points that way.

The Spanish story existed at least a century before the French legend of Notre Dame de 1'Épine was published and may have informed it. Could the Spanish story also be a misinterpretation of iconography? Obviously not. If the apparition document is untrue, then it was a deliberate forgery, one in which care was taken to have the visions coincide with the dates on which pilgrims arrived as early as 1404, and to include the name of the shrine's chief promoter as a witness. The Santa Gadea document with its explicit reference to the shrine of Saint Catherine indicates at the very least that there was more conscious use of imitative apparitions in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, possibly based on travelers' reports from the Sinai. One wonders whether a shepherd boy could have been so well informed about what was a very remote shrine. But the replication of apparitions such as those of Fatima and Lourdes today by children 8 to 13 years of age should alert us to the possibility of imaginative assimilation of legends by children in earlier times.

Another source for the Espino story is the kind of vision that led to the founding of monasteries. One of the earliest of the genre is the vision of Mary with handmaidens seen by a shepherd on the site of Evesham Abbey. The shepherd informed Bishop Egwin, who prayed, went and looked, and was blessed by the Virgin. The apparitions supposedly took place in 709, and the story was probably written sometime in the same century. (22) In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the monks of Saint Catherine's told pilgrims of an apparition of Mary there. When a chapel (not the main monastery) was going to be moved from one spot on the mountain to another where there would be more food and fewer fleas and lice, Mary appeared to assure the monks there would be no more pests and send them two camel-loads of food. (23) Stories such as these were part of the culture of fourteenth-century Europe and would have been heard as exempla in sermons.

The Santa Gadea apparition is a creative combination of two kinds of legends--the Marian apparition, in this case ultimately [37] derived from the apparition of God to Moses in the burning bush, and the invention of the bodies of saints. Although the former takes precedence, the latter--the "invention" of the martyrs of the abandoned parish church--is also very much present in Pedro's story, and points us back to the forerunner of the Spanish Marian legends and apparitions.The invention of the bodies of saints is best exemplified in Spain by that of Saint James of Compostela in the ninth century. Such discoveries, which answered the need of bishoprics and towns for sacred relics and local sacred protectors, and which channeled peasants' promises and devotions into urban coffers, were frequent in Spain as late as the thirteenth century. (There was a new outbreak in Andalusia in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.) The inventions were often preceded by some of the same signs that occur in the Santa Gadea vision and which continue in the later, purely Marian apparitions, such as lights and celestial music.

According to the Siete Partidas, a comprehensive codification of civil and canon law compiled under the direction of Alfonso X of Castile around 1248, miraculous shrines based on discoveries of relics were being founded then, also. (24)

Three kinds of "inventions" are distinguished here: fraudulent ones, ones based on dreams, and ones based on phantoms (antoianças). The Santa Gadea case, should it have to be classed in this way, would be an invention based upon the apparition of a phantom, fraudulently or not. In his Setenario, Alfonso el Sabio defines an antoiança. He goes through the different ways that people come to have mistaken beliefs: sect, opinion, fantasy (as in deliria), dream, and hallucination. His series goes [38] from the more believable to the less, and he classes antoiança between opinion and fantasy. "Antoiança is something that stops before the eyes and then disappears, as one sees or hears it in a trance, and so is without substance." (25)From the invention of relics based on visions to the Santa Gadea story, the founding of a Marian devotion on the site of relics based on a vision, is a very short step.

If relics could be located by visions or dreams, so could statues and crucifixes. As we will see, this kind of legend was part of the common culture of the late medieval period. The miraculous finding of statues, as at Montserrat, Guadalupe, Peña de Francia, Nuria, virtually all of the great Marian shrines of late medieval Spain, are based on a simple switch in the previous scenario from the finding of saints' bodies to the finding of images. If these stories were legendary, they in turn inspired or informed the way other statues were "discovered."

Such a case, near Nieva (Segovia), may have occurred shortly before the Santa Gadea visions, for there are certain disquieting resemblances. In these early visions it is difficult to tell legends from real episodes. For Santa Gadea there is a document that may or may not be legitimate. For the apparition/discovery of Mary near Nieva, no document exists. There, a shepherd named Pedro supposedly had a revelation around 1390 to tell the bishop of Segovia to look for a statue of Mary hidden underground. When the statue was eventually found, the shepherd was known, like the Pedro of Santa Gadea, as Pedro de Buenaventura. Which story came first?

The shrine of Santa María la Real de Nieva definitely existed first. The original bulls of the Avignon pope Clement VII that permitted its founding and granted indulgences for persons contributing to it are dated February 25, 1393. Like the 1404 bull for Santa Gadea of Benedict XIII, they mention an influx of pilgrims to the site, in this case because of miracles worked not only by the Virgin Mary but also by Saint Anne. The site was donated by Queen Catalina to the Dominicans in 1399, and they administered it as a monastery shrine and parish until the nineteenth century. (26)

Alonso de Venero, writing around 1550, said the church was [39] built "at the intercession of the image of the Virgin Mary that was found in the same place." (27) The apparition story may have been considerably elaborated after 1564, when the body of the lucky shepherd was rediscovered intact in the church. So it is impossible to say which Pedro de Buenaventura existed (as a person or as a legendary invention) first. Both were supposed to have ended their lives in service to the shrine they were instrumental in founding.

The shrine of Santa Maria del Espino of Santa Gadea is supposed to have started with an apparition, pure and simple. The story for Nieva includes in addition the finding of a statue and thus is much closer to the archetypal Castilian legend of the time, that of Guadalupe.

In 1399 Santa Gadea del Cid was no longer threatened by Moors. They had not been there for 300 years. It was, however, harrassed by bandits precisely from isolated buildings like the abandoned church in the countryside that was the site of the apparition. Doubtless it had also been threatened by the plague. The apparitions of Mary addressed these needs. The hawthorn would cure illnesses; a depiction of the apparition would be protection from the devil. But there was a condition. The abandoned church in the countryside was messy symbolically and spiritually as well as overgrown with brush and a social nuisance. In more ways than one, it had to be cleaned up.

Churches were places where pieces of saints were kept. The villagers, spiritual as well as physical heirs of abandoned communities in their jurisdiction, were responsible for spiritual obligations such as corporately contracted promises. A church that was once sacred had been desecrated. Were there also any obligations the living did not know about? What of obligations to the dead, masses for their souls. A parish church is also the site of a graveyard. Abandon a parish church and one abandons the dead.

The extent to which people in Spanish villages observed obligations to abandoned parish churches is evident in the 1575-1580 relaciones topográficas of Philip II; village after village reports processions to isolated churches in the countryside that were once the parish churches of villages abandoned because of [40] plague or drought. Even today, many isolated shrines are remembered as having once been parish churches, although by and large there is much less sense of corporate duty to distant ancestors and heavenly helpers.

Whether or not the village of Montañana la Yerma was overrun by Moors, thus, such a story had a clear physical and spiritual referent in the minds of the people of Santa Gadea: the abandoned church of San Millán. If the village council cleaned out the weeds and brush from the church their town would prosper and their souls grow in grace.

If the devil was the enemy once the Moors were far away, the Moors remained as an historic "other." They were perhaps a present enemy as well, for men from all over Castile were periodically called south to do battle until 1492. Santa Gadea itself came to bear the name of Castile's most famous warrior, El Cid.

Jaén, 1430

The threat of the Moors was a live one in Jaén, 650 km. to the south of Santa Gadea in northern Andalusia. There, on the night of June 10-11, 1430, two men and two women saw a ghostly procession, similar to that of Santa Gadea. Two days later they recounted what they saw to the vicar general of the diocese, and the original document of their testimony that he had drawn up is in the archive of the parish church of San Ildefonso. The text was first published in 1639, when new marvels in nearby Arjona and Baeza seemed to threaten Jaén's supremacy in miracles. (28)

In 1430 Jaén was near enough to the Moslem-Christian frontier that Moorish raids occasionally came up to the walls of the city. (29) The residents who did not live within the inner walls of the city lived in constant fear of attack. The vision took place in a suburb, and was related to those fears. As with the apparition of Santa Gadea, the procession of Jaén was dense with symbolism; but in contrast to the earlier vision, at Jaén Mary gave no explication.

[41] Chronology

On Tuesday, June 13,1430 the four seers "put their hands on the cross and swore in the hand of the judge by God, Saint Mary, the sign of the cross that they physically touched, and the holy gospels wherever they might be" to tell the entire truth. Juan Rodríguez de Villalpando first questioned informally the seer who had the most complete view of the procession, Pedro, son of Juan Sánchez. Then he took formal testimony from:

In the translation below I have put the testimony of Juan first and omitted Pedro's informal statement, as it coincides with his formal testimony.


TESTIMONY OF PEDRO TESTIMONY OF MARÍA SÁNCHEZ TESTIMONY OF JUANA FERNÁNDEZ On the night of Saturday, June 10, around midnight, the four witnesses, two young men living in one house and two wives of shepherds in their own houses, all saw, in the vicinity of the church of San Ildefonso, a procession of people dressed in white, with a tall lady who gave off a blinding light carrying a baby or what could have been a baby. These are the only matters on which the viewers agreed.

Three of the viewers specified that the blinding light issued from the lady's face, but for all of them the light itself was what first attracted their attention. Two of them, Juan and Juana, said that the light was not one they had ever known and was unlike that of the sun or the moon. The women at first thought it could be lightning, but rejected the idea as the light was [50] continuous. The light remained after the lady had passed, and Juan said he felt warmed by it.In terms of the direction and time of the procession, three were in agreement. Pedro, Juan, and Juana all saw the procession go up the hill to pause at the open space behind San Ildefonso and heard the bells ring for midnight and matins. But Maria Sánchez, who lived on the street joining the city and San Ildefonso, saw the procession going by her house in the opposite direction--away from the church toward the city, before midnight struck.

In terms of the composition of the procession, Pedro and Juan, on the one hand, and Maria and Juana, on the other, appear to have partially coordinated their stories, but the overall picture is quite confused. Pedro and Juan both saw men dressed in white carrying crosses, a lady, priests who were praying, and armed men, and heard dogs barking. Pedro saw seven crosses, Juan five; for Pedro a total of twenty priests walked on both sides of the crosses in front of the lady, for Juan the crosses went in front of the lady, but the priests (only ten of them) followed her. Both of them saw that the lady wore a train about three arm-lengths long, but only Pedro saw that she was followed by a large group of people, women first, then men. Both saw about 100 armed men bringing up the rear, and both were frightened.

Pedro specifically said that no one was near the lady. Both Maria and Juana placed two figures near her. Juana could not see who they were, but Maria identified one as Saint Ildefonsus and the other as a beata, or nun. (32) Maria saw a group of people following Mary, and Juana saw men carrying pole-like objects, which could have been crosses or lances.

Discrepancies like these are not important if our task is not to see whether Mary actually visited Jaén that night, but rather to understand what this story meant to the witnesses and townspeople. Certainly the discrepancies did not stop the people from eventually taking the whole matter very seriously. Our Lady of the Capilla is now the patroness of the city, and from the sixteenth century on she has been turned to for help in major disasters. (33) To the witnesses, however, the meaning of their visions was not so clear. Three of them thought they were [51] seeing some sort of religious activity, identifying priests at prayer. Pedro was the only one who saw an outdoor altar behind the church, but both he and Maria heard singing. Only Maria offered an explicit identification of the lady as Mary and pointed the way to the meaning that the people of Jaén subsequently assigned to the episode. Her interpretation, however, was consistent with the testimony of the other witnesses.Maria saw the lady as Mary because she was like an image in the altar of the Church of San Ildefonso. The present image of Our Lady of the Capilla is almost always covered by a robe, but a 1950 monograph on the devotion includes a photograph of the image undressed. (34) The statue appears to be from the fourteenth century or early fifteenth century. Mary wears a gold robe with white daisies; she is standing and carrying a child. The back of the image is broken off, as if it had been part of a reredos and was removed. María Sánchez described white flowers on Mary's dress. Possibly, the present statue was once part of a reredos and was broken off, after the visions, to be venerated in a special chapel.

María Sánchez also claimed to recognize Saint Ildefonsus, the seventh-century bishop of Toledo noted for his Marian writings, walking next to Mary and showing her a book. She recognized him, too, from his image in the church. The combination of Mary and Ildefonsus inevitably leads to the early legend of Mary bestowing on Ildefonsus a chasuble. The story as told in the life of Ildefonsus by the monk Cixila in the ninth century is as follows: (35)

This story was known throughout Europe by the end of the eleventh century. In the compendia of Marian miracles, it was almost invariably the first or second miracle, not only in Western Europe but also in the Orient. (36) The Cathedral of Toledo was a shrine largely because of this tradition, and the stone on which Mary supposedly stood was venerated within it. Even today many persons entering the cathedral touch the holy stone and say a brief prayer (37) (see Figures 3 and 4).


Our witnesses, living as they did in the parish of San Ildefonso, appeared to know the story. Juan saw the lady traveling on her feet but also, strangely, on some kind of a platform, perhaps the throne in the legend. Pedro, who viewed the ceremony behind the church, saw an unearthly choir, an elaborate altar, and Mary seated on a throne. That what was involved in the matins ceremony was a heavenly, not an earthly choir was made clear both by Pedro (who thought the voices were weak like recently recovered sick people) and Maria (for whom "it did not appear to be singing of this world"). Pedro did not see Mary give the vestment to Saint Ildefonsus (would that be the cape lined with silks the colors of sunflowers Maria saw?); in fact he says the lady walked alone, hence without the saint altogether.

All in all, the visions seem to be informed in part by the legend, but they do not reproduce it. Instead, like the Santa Gadea story, they are inventive, using elements from the legend, together with elements from Jaén ceremonial, as the mind makes creative combinations from known elements when dreaming. Both Juan and Pedro remarked how the carrying of the crosses and the crosses themselves were similar to standard Jaén processions in which every cross would stand for a parish.

Such a visit would logically resemble two kinds of ceremonies [53] familiar to any resident of Jaén. Undoubtedly, like other Iberian cities of the time, Jaén held daytime petitionary processions to invoke divine assistance, whether for health, rain, or victory. Barcelona processions in 1425 and 1427, for instance, also included crosses of parishes, clergy dressed in white singing the litany, major relics or statues, and, bringing up the rear, the people. The second kind is the city's solemn reception of royalty. Such an entrance would have taken the form of a Corpus procession and would have included stops at specially decorated sites, like the improvised altar behind San Ildefonso. (38)

The presence of armed men is another innovation in keeping with local conditions. Pedro saw them as protection for the procession, and the very fact they might be needed frightened him. But his own evidence that all were dressed in white might indicate that all in the procession belonged to the realm of the dead, the realm of heaven, and the soldiers might also be seen as martyrs who died in the crusades against the Moors, and who perhaps were buried in that cemetery, as with the martyrs of Santa Gadea. In this, the entire vision evokes the processions of souls of the dead said to be seen until recent times in Galicia.

Later interpreters saw the soldiers' presence and the apparition as a whole as a sign that Mary would protect the city in the future. This message of special Marian attention and protection, building on the legend of the Descent to Toledo and the liturgical customs of the city, would have been very welcome to a jumpy frontier city. Just as Mary came to Toledo to single out Ildefonsus for attention, and in the process honored the city itself, so Mary came to Jaén, perhaps introduced by Ildefonsus, to defend the city from Moors.

The city of Tortosa, at the mouth of the Ebro River, also has a tradition of an apparition that appears to derive from the legend of Saint Ildefonsus. There in the cathedral is preserved a holy belt, "la Santa Cinta," supposedly given by the Virgin to a holy priest at a midnight matins ceremony in 1178 (see Figure 5). There is no document for the apparition, and the story may well have been made up centuries later. The holy belt was there as early as 1354 and was used at that time for women in childbirth, like numerous "girdles" or "ceintures" [54] of Mary prized in towns in France, England, Italy, and Flanders. No mention of an apparition comes until a special prayer was approved for it in 1508. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the belt was taken to the queens of Spain as a holy aid in childbirth. (39) One wonders whether the belt might not originally have been a "mide"--a talisman-measurement of some place in the holy land of the kind ordinarily secured by Western pilgrims. The legend is more evidence for the popularity of the original miracle of Ildefonsus.


The apparitions of Santa Gadea and Jaén bear resemblances uncanny for places so far apart and matters of only local importance. Such resemblances, it turns out, are more the rule than the exception. If they appear uncanny, then perhaps our notions about rural ignorance or segmented cultural systems need revision. Both apparitions involve a procession that includes a lady clad in white who gives off a blinding light. The bedazzled seers have to cover their eyes or periodically look away. One seer has to feel her way with her hands along her wall to her room; another has to wait before he feels clearheaded enough to get down off a wall without falling. Seers in both places refer to the light as brighter than the sun.

Both processions are liturgical, take place at midnight, and end with a matins ceremony. In both, the saints and angels are doing things that priests or monks do, and both choirs sound unearthly. Both are outdoors in public, not private, space. Other heavenly matins processions were not uncommon in the Middle Ages. Thirty-three of the miracles mentioned by Caesarius of Heisterbach occur during matins, the office in which it is most difficult to stay awake, that which takes place at the hour of midnight. Although villages did observe matins during Holy Week, it was essentially a monastic ritual, and the motif of heavenly matins doubtless grows out of monastic tradition. This makes special sense for Santa Gadea, where the Virgin calls for a monastery.

The seers, too, are similar. Pedro and Juan are the names of seers in both, and in Jaén, as in Santa Gadea, Pedro is the main seer. In Jaén it is Pedro who reveals, virtually as an afterthought, that he received locutions warning him to stay awake to see [55] good things the third and second nights before the vision. Again there is a reminiscence of Peter, who three times was unable to stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane. At Jaén it is Pedro who, of all the seers, has the most complete view of the procession. He alone gets a glimpse of the ceremony behind the church. His importance as chief seer is shown by the fact that the judge took him aside and questioned him first informally. In both cases, Pedro is the chosen one whose testimony gives impetus to the shrine or devotion, as Peter founded the Church. It is Pedro's account of the Jaén procession that is considered definitive by later historians. (40)

In keeping with the epoch, both apparitions have in the background as the enemy or the "other," the Moors. In later visions this "other" becomes Christian heretics, "reds," and finally, liberal clergy. Almost always, however, implicitly or explicitly, there is some "other" with an alternative system of belief, against which the seers and the community can affirm their faith in their own gods.

What features distinguish these two stories from later visions? The lady so intensely brilliant does not return to the peninsula until the apparition of Fatima in 1917. In later years there are no more supernatural processions. And by and large the visions get simpler. These two apparitions conform to the efflorescence of symbolism that is associated with the waning of the Middle Ages. In that of Santa Gadea, the symbolism is deciphered, and the Virgin gives Pedro a detailed explication of what he saw. That of Jaén is left for the people to figure out; there is no direct communication, aside from Pedro's premonitions. Both are complex signs, sacred riddles.

The Mary that appears in these two visions is not the benevolent friend of later visions. She is indeed benevolent, but as a hieratic mother goddess rather than a person. The face that sends forth light that blinds is a terrifying image of power. The Marian image is halfway between the enthroned God-mother of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and the graceful standing lady of later years. Three of the Jaén visionaries see her walking, but taller by a forearm than everyone else, and Juan sees her paradoxically both walking and seated at the same time. Pedro, [56] who saw her walk, also saw her sit in a silver chair behind the church. At Santa Gadea, where she is (presumably seated) in the hawthorn tree, there are overtones of divinities of trees and pre-Christian cults, as with the fairies that Jeanne d'Arc knew about in a tree in her village. (41)

Perhaps the greatest shock to Catholics versed in the saccharine images of Mary of later centuries is the whipping of Pedro by monks in Santa Gadea, supervised by Mary herself. Punishment, in Catholic popular theology, was thought to be administered by God or Christ, but here is a very stern Mary indeed. It is true, she works through agents, and also that mothers of Santa Gadea may also have had their children punished; but the beating was bad enough to cause an uproar in the town, good evidence that it would not have been tolerated from any parent.

Nor was the beating without precedent in European religious legend. Bede says Saint Peter himself thrashed Bishop Laurence when he was going to abandon his see in England. In that case, as at Santa Gadea, the wounds served as proofs of divine intervention, for when Laurence showed his wounds to the king, the king was converted. Caesarius of Heisterbach, writing in the thirteenth century, told various stories--a nun was cured of her lust for a priest by a clip on the jaw from the Blessed Virgin, "a grievous disease requires harsh medicines"; a sexton was attacked by a cross in his bedroom; and a canon was kicked in the stomach by John the Baptist. The Libro de los exenplos, compiled 1400-1420, contains a story taken from Gregory the Great about the Lord appearing to a priest to give him a message for a saintly bishop. The priest did not dare approach the bishop, and finally during the third apparition the Lord severely whipped the priest, who thereupon went to the bishop, showed him his wounds, and delivered the message. (42)

These attacks are in keeping with a notion of divinity that inspired an awe akin to terror, with whom contact is more to be feared than desired. It is an early medieval notion, one that was changing even as the Spanish visions we describe took place. Divine assault and battery was rare in the late Middle Ages; [57] it occurs in none of the Spanish public visions I know of after Santa Gadea.

Subsequent apparitions of Mary have her seem and act like a human being. The seers do not know who she is until she tells them. She is kind, gentle, and very beautiful. In the Santa Gadea and Jaén testimony, beauty is not mentioned. Glory and power, high wattage, is more like it. The more human and humane apparitions follow shortly after. Is it a coincidence that these two more god-like visions occurred earlier? In any case, the change aptly represents the shift in the image of Mary so clear in the iconography of the late Gothic period.

Cubas (Madrid), 1449

The village of Cubas is about forty km. southwest of Madrid, just off the road to Toledo. In 1978 it was still beyond the area of urban expansion, with neither chalets nor apartment houses. Visitors who ask there for the convent of Santa María de la Cruz will be met with blank stares. When they explain what they want they are directed to "Santa Juana," a small convent lying in a depression a few hundred meters east of the town by a dirt road. The gently rolling fields around the town are still, as in 1449, used for grain and vines.

More is known about the apparitions in Cubas to Inés Martínez in 1449 than virtually any Spanish apparitional episode until the twentieth century. This is not because it is an important shrine now--it is not a shrine at all--but rather because a copy of the investigations of the visions and the affidavits taken of the subsequent miracle cures is still available. Although the convent was destroyed in the Civil War, the nuns were able to preserve a full transcription of the documents. (43)

In March 1449, Inés Martínez, called Inesica by her friends, was 12 1/2 years old. She was born August 3, 1436. She herself told the judges in the investigation that she normally said 150 Hail Marys and Our Fathers when keeping her pigs, and that [58] she knew two other prayers. The other witnesses confirmed that she was exceptionally devout. She first confessed at age six, and she confessed more often than the other children her age. She first received communion at about age nine. From about that time she had abstained from wine and fasted for half the days of Lent and all the days of Mary. Devoted to Mary, she often prayed at Mary's altar in the morning. If she heard the church bells ringing she went to the church "to see God," even if she had to interrupt a meal. The judges seemed to measure debauchery by behavior at weddings; unlike others her age, Inés rarely attended weddings, and, when she did, she did not dance or sing.


In keeping with the poverty of her parents, Inés dressed modestly. For the year before the visions she worked watching [59] pigs; at home she spun and prayed. Sometimes she ate at the home of her friend next door. Her good character was one reason why some of the townspeople believed in the apparitions. One villager said, "All who hear Inés believe what she says because they know she is a good daughter." Her neighbors considered her incapable of fabricating the story.Inés's father's occupation was variously given as the town pigherder (porquerizo) or as a blacksmith (ferrero). He and his wife were described by their fellow villagers as poor and simple. Probably the majority of the peasants would have characterized themselves as poor to Church or government officials. If Inés's parents were among the poorest in the village, probably some other qualifiers would have been added. In any case they were neither rebellious (revoltosos) nor crafty ("no entienden en mal"). The judges wondered if Inés's parents could have coached her to invent the visions. Their neighbor thought that neither father nor mother was smart enough. One witness said they were the simplest in the village.

Inés's visions of Mary took place over seventeen days in March 1449. Mary appeared to her a total of six times, always in fields outside the village, as follows:

[60] On Monday, March 10, Inés's testimony was taken before a notary public, and a copy was sent with her and some village men to Guadalupe, where the Virgin had instructed her to go. On Friday, March 21, she described this final vision in a deposition, which together with the earlier document was sent by the town to the archbishop of Toledo.

On April 23 there opened an official enquiry ordered by the archbishop. I have translated below Inés's testimony on March 10, March 19, and April 23.


[61] Testimony of Inés The witnesses to this first declaration included five citizens of Griñón (the next village to the north); two men from Cubas, including an alcalde; and three from Humanes, the next village to the. west. It was made before four notaries.

Inés's hand came unfixed at Guadalupe, not on her return, [64] and on March 21, two days after she came back, she was questioned once more before notaries public, this time by the titular priest of the parish, who was probably absent at the time of the first visions.

The matter had certainly aroused attention between March 10 and this declaration on March 21. The titular priest had come in, presumably from Toledo, where he was a prebend. The witnesses to the March 21 declaration included not merely men from Cubas but also the parish priest of Fuenlabrada, two citizens of Toledo, and two pages of the duke of Medinaceli.

Both of the declarations were dispatched by the concejo of Cubas to Alfonso Carrillo, archbishop of Toledo. On April 7 he replied from Benavente giving the town permission to build the church and instructing the archpriests of Madrid and Illescas to document the matter more fully.

The new investigation was opened in Cubas on April 23, 1449, by the clerical investigators placing the archbishop's letter upon their heads and saying they would obey him. The Cubas priest presented the witnesses, Inés first of all. With her previous depositions in hand, they led her through her testimony about the four days of apparitions one by one and asked for additional details for each day. Translated below are their questions and her answers. The questions themselves reveal much about the meaning of apparitions in fifteenth-century culture.

Twenty-one other witnesses were questioned by the judges: Inés's brother and parents; the two shepherd boys who were nearby at the first apparition; Inés's next-door neighbors, who heard about the apparitions from their daughter on Tuesday, March 4; their married son, whose own son was one of the first cured; the acting priest; one of the commanders, who instructed Inés on Sunday morning to ask for a sign; three small children from the procession who heard the Virgin call Inés, one of whom saw the Virgin from behind; two men who went with Inés and her father to Guadalupe; three local men who were protagonists of miracles recorded on April 15, and two others from nearby towns who were at the shrine on April 23 to give thanks for their cures. There are no blatant contradictions in the stories, but enough minor variations to indicate that the testimony had not been coordinated in advance.

The testimony provides alternative explanations for the visions. The shepherd boys gave their initial reactions to Inés's story as, "if she was so beautiful she was a traveling prostitute (mondaria)" and, "if she was an earthly woman we would have seen her." Inés's parents could not shrug off the matter so easily. They told her she lied ("Calla loca que mientes"), and the neighbors reported that Inés's parents had said to her, "They will say you are drunk (beoda)." (46)

The villagers describe the public events in more detail than Inés. When Inés carne to the church on Sunday, they said, she was weeping; after she knelt at Mary's altar, the people gathered around her and heard her story. They tried to pry open her hand, and they kissed it. After the general procession reached the cross, men were left to guard it all night, and the next day another procession was held to retrieve it.

Even after the deposition and the procession, people were not entirely convinced. One of the men who accompanied Inés to Guadalupe, Martín Ruíz, measured the position of Inés's thumb on her fingers against a stick and checked later to see if she had moved it. He also examined her hand at night while she was [73]asleep and found it unchanged. Ruiz was struck with a fever and dolor de costado while going up a pass on their return, and was cured when Inés touched his side. He became a firm believer. (47) When Inés talked to Mary for the last time, March 19, she complained that people still did not believe her, but enough believed to convert the apparition site into a shrine.

The pattern of the Cubas apparitions is similar to that of Santa Gadea and a large number of legends. A single seer or two seers have visions in the countryside that they prove to their town after repeated attempts with a sign provided by the divine figure. The proof is revealed in some dramatic way, and the seer, often of humble status, undergoes a kind of local sanctification. Many of these seers were buried at the shrines they helped to found, at least according to legend. The essential drama of the story is the rejection, then the vindication of the less credible, marginal seer in the face of the skepticism not only of the authorities but often of their own families. The stories validate the local as opposed to the governmental or bureaucratic, and the common person, even the weak, as opposed to the nobility and the strong. Power structures are surprised and converted; ultimately they assume control of the sacred enterprises they first refused to accept.

The small but critical differences between the different cases include the iconography or attributes of the divine figure; any message the saint gives in addition to the standard one indicating protection and requesting a shrine; and especially the particular form of proof.

What were the distinctive features of the Cubas story? Which Mary appeared to Inés? Mary of the Cross, as she became known, shares some of the characteristics of the two earlier visions described above. On the day she gave the sign, her face was so bright that Inés had trouble looking at it. But the previous days she appeared to be a human lady, betraying herself as something more only by her sudden disappearances. In spite of the brightness, this is a different Mary from the distant goddess of Jaén.

From the very first, Mary takes a friendly, maternal role. "Que haces aquí, carita?" is the kind of friendly, rhetorical [74] greeting which one villager addresses another even today. In fact "carita," literally dearie --we might say "honey" -- was such a colloquial form of address for the Virgin Mary to employ that when the village notary recopied Inés's first deposition for it to be sent off to the archbishop, he substituted the slightly more formal, but still affectionate, "hija"--daughter, or child, a term the Virgin used at other times to Inés. "Carita" was what Inés really said that the Virgin had said, because that is also what she told the shepherd boys. The Virgin maintained this informal tone throughout the dialogues, which seem to echo the interactions of a village child and an approachable noblewoman. The Virgin addressed Inés in the tu form, and Inés replied in the respectful vos form, once calling the Virgin "vuestra merced" (your grace).

So Inés was not afraid of the lady until the lady disappeared. Unlike the other two cases, where Mary was aloof, here she touched Inés. Even the painful fixing of Inés's hand is a more human, closer relation than the distant majesty of Santa Gadea and Jaén.

And this is a strangely diminutive Mary. Inés's mother testified that Inés told her that Mary was "a small woman, although not her size" (one is unsure whether she meant Mary was not as small or not as tall as Inés). (48) Witnesses who saw the footprints said they were tiny. (49) Inés said they were those of a person about eight years old. The small size matches Inés's identification of the Virgin with the image at Guadalupe, which appeared to Inés to be alive and watching her. Here there is another similarity to the Jaén story--María Sánchez saw the Virgin and Saint Ildefonsus as portrayed on the altar. There, however, the Virgin was larger than the people around her; it was as if the image had been blown up. Mary's size when she appeared to Inés was more like the size of the statue. A small Mary, which was common to many of the early modern apparitions, is a less fearsome, more approachable spirit, like the little people of Celtic countries.

This Mary, a standing image, is not a queen; she is a lady, has a refined voice, very white hands and face, and is beautiful. In the earlier visions the seers cannot even see Mary's face.

[74] Perhaps the cross is the most distinguishing feature of this vision sequence. The high point comes when Mary kneels in front of the cross, then plants it in the ground, leaving her footprints. For a moment she was in the recognizable stance of Mary at the foot of the Cross. The ground immediately became sacred for the people of Cubas. The spot was guarded; the sand taken as a relic and used for cures. People walked two or three times around the apparition site as part of the cures, or went on their knees, as they would in a shrine, or around a saint's tomb.

The sign of Inés's hand also was a cross, one that served as a test. Some believed and some did not. On March 19, on Inés's return from Guadalupe, the Virgin said she knew that some did not believe. She implied that those who did not believe had lost their chance. She also said that those who saw it and believed it would be blessed. This message was garbled by the priest in his testimony; he was apparently confused by the mention of a new, unidentified sign. He understood the message as, "Blessed will be those who will see and believe," as if referring to a future sign. (50) A seventeenth-century historian reported the message as, "Blessed are those who did not see, but believed," giving it a Biblical twist. (51) He, too, seemed to interpret Mary's statement as referring to the future sign. But Inés's version is clear enough. Those who saw and believed the sign of her hand as a cross would be blessed. Those who did not believe it had lost their chance, because by March 19 the sign was gone, her hand was back to normal. The cross was the test.

The villagers wanted to know more about any further signs. When the Virgin announced an epidemic, Inés immediately wanted to know if her family would be affected. After Inés testified to her last vision on March 19, the priest Ferrnand Alonso asked her only one question: what would the sign be, or when? Inés said she knew nothing more.

A second sign at Cubas was the footprints of the Virgin in the sand. They are almost incidental signatures to a tableau already complete. The Archangel Michael also left tiny footprints in his church on Monte Gargano to show that it was he who helped the Sipontines in a naval battle against pagans in [76] 663. This story was part of the martyrologies used in Mozarabic and Roman ritual in Toledo. The motif is not common, however, in Spanish legends or in modern apparitions.By contrast, the contorted hand as a sign and proof of a vision is found in many shrine stories. There are many variations: (52)

a closed hand: Virgen del Risco,Villatoro (Av.), supposedly c. 1200

hand fixed to cheek: Na. Sa. de la Carrodilla, Estadilla (Huesca); Na. Sa. de las Sogas, Bellvís (Lleida); Na. Sa. de Carramia, Abella de la Conca (Lleida)

hand fixed to stone: Na. Sa. de la Soterraña, Nieva (Segovia)

hand fixed to ear: Na. Sa. del Prado, Vivel (Teruel) supp. bef. 1349

arms fixed in cross: Na. Sa. del Pueyo, Villamayor (Zara.) supp. bef. 1369

The cure of seers with previously paralyzed arms and hands is also common as a proof.

Three kinds of contexts may have given the Cubas visions their meaning for the villagers: the political struggles of the Castilian monarchy and their local repercussions; the Lenten season; and the imminence of death by disease.

Alfonso Carrillo, the archbishop of Toledo, authorized the building of the shrine and the taking of testimony on April 7, 1449, from Benavente (Zamora). He was part of a conspiracy of nobles, including the count of Benavente, against Alvaro de Luna, Juan II's condestable. In January 1449, open rebellion had broken out in Toledo, when Alvaro de Luna had tried to levy a special tax; and on May 3 the king's representative there, Pero Sarmiento, joined the rebellion, which included the pillage of converso merchants. Sarmiento sent a complaint to the king about converso influence and in June promulgated a decree denying conversos the right to hold office in the city. (53)

It is difficult to see a direct connection between the rebellion and the apparitions. It may be that, as a supernatural restatement of Christian power, the apparition was a reaction to converso influence. By implication, if the epidemic were conditional on confession, and the conversos did not confess, then they [77] would be the ones at fault when the epidemic came (cf. the scapegoating of the Jews in 1391). But there is no internal evidence to support this proposition. A clear example of an anti-Jewish shrine is that of the Niño de la Guardia, not far away, a shrine to a child supposedly crucified by Jews c. 1485. Several conversos were tried and executed for the crime in 1490.

A second political context was the presence of marauding Navarrese in the area. The villagers reported to Philip II more than 125 years later that these incursions, apparently based on the castle of Torija, involved mass kidnappings, with the victims ransomed off at the castle of Zorita de los Canes. There would seem to be a parallel to the kind of security the Virgin offered against the Moors in Jaén twenty years before. Juan, son of Benito Sánchez of Paracuellos de la Rivera (now Paracuellos del Jarama) came to Cubas and told his story on March 3, 1450, the anniversary of the first vision. In December 1449 he was lying in bed with his wife and children when archers, footsoldiers, and about sixty mounted men pillaged his town and took off forty men and youths to Torija, about seventy km. northeast. There they were imprisoned "under seven locks" and fed only entrails and, each Sunday, a small loaf of bread. Juan was kept chained to a wooden ball weighing seven libras for seven weeks. One night with others he was taken out to work at a lime kiln. He remembered hearing of the miracles of the Virgin Saint Mary of the Cross near Cubas, he invoked her aid, leaped from a high wall, miraculously eluded his pursuers, and escaped. After struggling a league and a half with his ball and chain, he broke it with rocks. On his visit of thanks to the shrine he brought a ball of wax and donated thirty days of work on the construction.

Villages that mentioned the raids in Philip II's survey included Esquivias, about fifteen km. south of Cubas, which was virtually wiped out, and Fuencarral, about thirty km. to the north, as well as towns closer to Torija such as Berniches, Jadraque, and Tendilla. The raids were therefore a clear threat to Cubas and at the very least must have contributed to a generalized sense of insecurity, on which apparitions through the centuries have thrived. (54)

[78] What of the formal religious context? The Virgin Mary revealed indulgences (nothing less than 80,000 years) for those who fasted on her days. In the diocese of Toledo at that time, six days of Mary were observed, and on none of them was fasting compulsory. (55) In some dioceses bishops granted indulgences (a maximum of forty days) for fasting or not working these days. The practice of fasting on the nearest Friday to the Marian day was not as rigorous as fasting on the day itself, since on Fridays meat could not be eaten anyway. Here Mary gave guidelines to the devout with scruples. From other sources it is known that villagers were very open to signs instructing them to observe the days of very popular saints, such as Saint Anne, whose days were not obligatory feasts. This kind of specification of duties in matters that the Church has left undefined characterizes vision messages throughout Europe to the present day.

The Cubas apparitions occurred in the first week of Lent, and another message of the Virgin is to set the soul straight by confession. Lent for most villagers would be the time for their one, annual, confession anyway, but the confession prescribed by Mary would not be a normal one, but rather a preparation for death. For in her deposition Inés reported the Virgin saying that an epidemic was definitely on the way. Others, the priest, Inés's mother, and a neighbor, when they told what Inés had told them, put the warning in a conditional form. That is, people should confess in order to avoid the epidemic and the bloody stones. Inés's direct words, however, are in keeping with the Virgin's ominous statement in the final vision that even if unbelievers want to, they will not be able to believe. The contrast in the testimony is revealing, for one sees how a visionary's statements that might be disproved by time are consciously or unconsciously adjusted by her audience, whether to enhance her credibility or to avoid facing death.

From Inés's statement, it is unclear whether the stones that would accompany the epidemic were a physical symptom, such as kidney stones, or whether, as the priest understood, they would fall from the sky. Rains of blood or rains of stones were [79] considered dire portents and signs of divine displeasure by specialists in divination. In 1438 some very light stones, perhaps volcanic in origin, had fallen on the Segovian village of Maderuelo; an official sent by Juan II of Castile brought specimens back to the Court. (56) The priest's interpretation of the chastisement as stones falling from the sky with blood may also have been influenced by a version of the Heavenly Letter. A Catalan manuscript of the Letter dating from around 1400 warned of "sharp and hot stones from the sky. . . and the stones will be mixed with blood, and will kill you and your sons and daughters." (57)

Finally the Virgin asked that a procession be held, a shrine built on the site of the cross, and two masses said in her name, with Inés and two children standing in front of the congregation. Inés was sent on what must have been the dream trip of a devout youngster of New Castile--to the great shrine of Guadalupe. Pilgrims would have been passing through Cubas on their way to the shrine; and possibly the shrine's questors had visited Cubas, bearing small images and gathering alms and money from villagers' vows. Some citizens of Cubas may well have been there, four days away to the southwest.

Two contemporaneous Italian visions resemble those of Inés both in the devotional instructions and in the vision motifs. In 1426 and 1428 an elderly married woman, Vicenza Pasini, had visions of Mary instructing her to tell the people of the town of Vicenza that if they built Mary a church on the site of the vision they would be spared a plague; and if they went there the first Sunday of every month and the days dedicated to Mary, they would receive copious graces. The Virgin traced the plan of the church on the ground with a cross made from olive branches. In 1426 the seer was not believed. In 1428, after the second vision during a serious plague, she was believed, partly because as the Virgin foretold a spring issued forth at the barren mountain site. Mary left a mark on the seer's shoulder with her fingers. A notarized account of the events was made in 1430, and the original is still extant. The shrine is known as the Vergine sul Monte Berico. (58) The motifs in common with [80] the Cubas visions, besides the almost universal connection with an epidemic, are the Virgin dressed in gold, giving devotional instructions, handling a cross, and touching the seer.

A vision four years later by another married woman at Caravaggio, in Lombardy 150 km. east of Vicenza, had another feature of the Cubas visions--the Virgin left her footprints. There Mary appeared in a field and said that her son was angry, that for him people should fast on Fridays and for her they should celebrate Saturdays after vespers. There, too, she left a spring. The Madonna di Caravaggio, or delle Fonte, is now an enormous shrine; in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, it inspired a number of satellite shrines and some imitative visions. (59)

While a direct connection is possible between the Italian cases and that of Cubas, it is more likely that all three cases partake of a culture of visions. The authorities of Cubas, while they were skeptical of Inés's story at first, knew what to do when she came with her proof. They arranged a procession in which children were prominent, and had the foresight to rig up a cross with which to mark the spot. I suspect there were precedents for this kind of event. Before these cases, whose documents are among the earliest that have survived from Western Europe, there must have been many others.

Although I do not know the history of epidemics in the Cubas area immediately prior to the visions, the documents of the shrine show how much people needed a divine helper for medical reasons. The same copyist who in 1789 transcribed the investigations, copied out the notarized versions of sixty-eight miracles performed at the shrine, more than half of them for the years 1449-1451.

In every community at any time, people have a number of everyday minor ailments, and some people suffer chronic infirmities. The quick curing of local people typically provided the initial impetus for the formation of a regional curing center. One of the first cures was at the nearby village of Ugena. Inés was on her way to Guadalupe and stopped there for the night. When the villagers heard her story, a man with his head swollen from a toothache got her to touch his face, and he was cured.

[81] On the return trip she cured the doubter Martín Ruíz of the dread dolor de costado mentioned in the Virgin's message. "He felt so sick that he no longer worried about his wife, his children, or his property; rather he thought about the danger to his soul and his need of penance for salvation. And he asked Inés to help him ask the Lady Virgin Saint Mary who appeared to her near Cubas to give him strength so he would not die before taking the Sacraments." (60)

Sudden death when not in a state of grace was the great fear of the Middle Ages, and this fear constituted part of the power behind Inés's message. Martin Ruiz's greatest fear was not of death itself, but of damnation. (61) Dolor de costado could bring damnation with a sudden death. Mary spoke to the villagers' real preoccupation with salvation both by warning them to confess because death was nigh, and also by providing indulgences that would ease their passage to another world.

Other cures in Cubas and surrounding villages in March and early April included a four-year-old girl who suddenly seemed to die on Wednesday of Holy Week, a three-year-old girl, dying, for whom a shroud had been prepared, a child who woke up with crippled legs, and a carpenter with badly swollen feet.

In April the radius of attraction for cures spread as far as Madrid (forty km.), and a woman came from Mondejar (seventy km. east) to hold a novena. Thereafter the zone of curing stayed about the same--about a 100-km. radius. Most pilgrims lived within twenty km. of a NE-SW axis from Talamanca through Madrid to Toledo. After 1455 few miracles were recorded--only the more spectacular ones, such as escapes from Moorish captivity in Granada and Murcia.

About four out of five of the fifty-five miracles recorded for the first six years of the Cubas shrine have to do with ailments. Few concern epidemic diseases, the only possible exceptions being four revivals from unspecified deaths and three cases of dolor de costado. The medical treatment for this latter problem was bleeding, and it was usually accompanied by a fever. Was it plague, appendicitis, nephritis, pneumonia, or something else?

Aside from a variety of ills that turned up only once--men with rabies, hernia, bad eyes, infected ear, toothache, weak [82] heart, and seizures; women with sciatica, a dangerous pregnancy, and blindness--the majority of miracles involved some kind of disabling paralysis. These paralyses were often sudden, and must have raised the specter of death without grace. They occurred to a woman working on the threshing floor; a man who fell over when sowing cucumbers; a son delousing his mother on a street in Madrid; a girl sweeping; and a soldier lying in bed in an inn in Vallecas. No less than three children and one woman woke up paralyzed. Several of these paralyses were total and lasted for a few hours until a vow was made. Others were partial and lasted much longer. Partial paralyses included muteness, crippled hands, and crippled legs.

Local practitioners knew that these paralyses were beyond their ken. When the four-year-old son of a man in Rejas, a village just west of Madrid, woke up crippled on November 1, 1454, his father took him to a healer (maestra) in a nearby village. She referred him to the shrine. "The healer said that his ailment was incurable and that she could not make him well, but that he should make a promise to the Virgin Mary of the Cross, and it would please God and the said Virgin Mary to make him well and healthy." The following Sunday he took his son to the shrine and offered him before the altar along with some money for the construction. Three pilgrims from Yepes witnessed the cure. (62)

The practitioners who were tried and rejected before praying or coming to the shrine included físicos (mentioned in five cases, for dolor de costado, sciatica, muteness [2] and "sickness"). But the físicos were expensive; one passing through the village of Fuenlabrada would have charged "muchos dineros" to cure a twenty-two-year-old mute woman; instead the woman made a promise to the shrine. Fisicos were above all located in Madrid and Toledo, where villagers would normally have to go to consult them.

Bleeding, however, could be done by local barberos. They too knew their limits. When a woman in Serranillos had a heart attack, the barber in the adjacent village advised her to turn to the shrine, since it was a heart problem. A man with rabies consulted a young man who was a saludador, someone with a [83] gift for healing hydrophobia; (63) but after a woman treated by the saludador died, the man gave up and went to the shrine.

There were probably other healers as well. In 1569, about a century later, supplicants coming to see a miraculous cross in Griñón, the next village north of Cubas, had previously tried medicos (again, in cities, no longer called fisicos), cirujanos (no longer called barberos, they did cauterizations and bleeding), algebristas (orthopedists), bizmadors and herbolarios (who cured wounds and bruises with poultices), and maestros (in Toledo, who operated on hernias). A simple bizmador in Nominchal charged four ducats, an enormous sum for a peasant, and his cure did not work. (64)

With this kind of competition, the shrine at Cubas and others in early modern Spain flourished. At shrines the fee was reasonable, it could be paid in kind, it was payable only if the cure was successful, and it was generally set by the patient.

A fifth of the miracles concerned non-medical problems. In addition to the villager who escaped from Torija, others escaped with the Virgin's help from prisons in Madrid, Illescas (debtors prison), and from the Moors in Vera (Granada). Others were saved from accidents--falls out of windows or into wells, drowning and choking; and three horses and a cow were cured.

The apparition was integral to the shrine and enhanced its attraction as a source of healing grace. Some of the people calling out for help from Mary of the Cross invoked the fact that she appeared to Inés, someone like them from their region and their station. Three years after the visions when Juan González of San Martín de Valdeiglesias died, his wife prayed, "O Lady Saint Mary blessed and glorious, just as by your holy mercy you chose to appear to that girl near Cubas, so by your holy mercy see fit to give me my husband alive, and I promise you to take him to your shrine with all the alms we can muster." The fame of the shrine is indicated in another way by this story. Juan's wife was moved to make her vow, although her husband was dead and the church bells were ringing for him, because her two-and-a-half-year-old son said, "Saint Mary of Cubas cured a man." Even infants knew about the miracles of the shrine over fifty km. to the east. (65)

[84] As in the above case, most cures occurred when a vow was made that included a quid pro quo. Of the cures made at the shrine, the rituals involved were probably copied from other curing sites. Sometime between April 1 and April 23, when the building was already under way, a man "sick in the eyes" with a bandage over them came from San Martín de la Vega, thirty km. east. Inés made the sign of the cross over him and cured his eyes with some sand that the Virgin had walked on. "And they told him to bring for the construction a measure of lime, and two libras of wax to burn before the Virgin Mary on the spot where she appeared. This was also to protect one of his mares, which was wounded." (66)

Inés intervened in few of the miracles, however. Most of the cures that took place at the shrine occurred at certain critical junctures--the moment a person left for the journey; when first coming in sight of the shrine, on entering the shrine, when praying there, or when walking around it. The offerings of those cured included working for a certain number of days on the shrine construction, sending workers, lime, stone, or wood; or other traditional Mediterranean votive offerings such as money, figures in wax of eyes, tongues, hands, faces, or entire bodies; a wax model of a cured horse, or wax symbols of captivity, such as chains or manacles. People spared from death or raised from the dead sent or brought shrouds, the crosses of wax with which they were laid out, and other funeral paraphernalia. People offered their own physical penances--coming barefoot or on their knees from a cross erected where the village procession waited during Inés's vision. At the shrine they might spend the night praying or even stay for nine days of a novena.

As at modern apparitions, even before the shrine was built or an image was present, the place or the site of the apparition was venerated and candles were burned there. At Cubas there was no image miraculously found. Eventually one was made, but the true relic of the appearance, besides the holy ground itself, was the cross the Virgin had held. In the early miracles there is no mention of its use in cures. In the sixteenth century [85] it became the focus of devotion at the shrine, which by that time was a cloistered Franciscan nunnery. In 1556 a mute girl sick with fever for two years indicated by signs to her parents that an image of Mary by her bed told her to go to Cubas and have the famous cross placed on her head. Her parents took her and secured permission from the abbess and the chaplain. When a nun took the cross down from the altar and gave it to the girl to kiss, then put it on her head, the girl fainted. When she woke up fifteen minutes later she was cured both of the fever and of her muteness. (67)

In the 1570s a procession was held regularly from the village to the nunnery on March 9, the anniversary of the general procession and the planting of the cross in 1449, and the nuns exposed the cross for all to see. People came from far away to see it on this day. Perhaps it is a measure of the growth in devotion to the Cross and the Crucifix over the intervening century that in 1580 the villagers knew more about the cross than we do from the original, voluminous testimony. The cross was made, they say, from boards from a loom. (68)

From the report of the apparition villagers sent to Philip II in 1580, we can see the ways in which the original story was modified, the extent to which it had become a legend. The 1580 version was essentially faithful, but there were some divergences from the original facts. The villagers said that nine visions took place March 1-9 (to correspond to a public novena held at the shrine those days?) instead of six visions March 3-19. They gave Inés's age as nine or ten (a more innocent age?) instead of twelve or thirteen. They did not mention messages about epidemics or injunctions to confess; instead the Virgin's only instruction was to build a church. The sign of the crossed fingers, the planting of the cross, and the trip to Guadalupe were faithfully remembered, but predictably the confusion over where the hand was to come unstuck was eliminated.

They also reported, briefly (as given above), an apparition of Saint Blaise, who instructed a plowman to stop working and have a chapel built. That tradition probably existed in the village before Inés's visions, for the first women in the new monastery [86] while awaiting its construction lived in a house next to the Saint Blaise chapel. It may have been one of the most immediate sources for Inés's visions.

Seventeenth-century clerical historians, with documents in hand, could give a more complete story. But they printed only brief excerpts from the vision document, and they too simplified the tale. For instance, they had the Virgin explicitly ruling out a second sign, and they changed the announcement of an epidemic to a threat. Hence, over time, the complex events of the original vision became simplified, both in oral and written history, to the point that the vision resembled the stories that could more properly be called legends.

From the miracles, we know that by early 1450 the representative of the lord of the village who helped order the original procession was administrator of the shrine and a shrine hospice. In 1454 the shrine had at least one servant, and as late as 1471 the cleric in charge of the shrine was still the Toledo prebend who was titular curate of Cubas in 1449. According to seventeenth-century historians, a group of women, members of the Third Order of St. Francis, in 1464 moved into a nunnery on the site constructed in part with their own money. Among them was Inés. (69)

These beatas were not cloistered, but rather held a kind of intermediate status between religious and secular, probably subject only to simple vows of chastity, which, unlike solemn public vows, could be set aside should a beata decide to marry. In the first years, two chaplains probably served the beatas as well as the public.

The women supported themselves by weaving and by begging in neighboring villages. They watched over their own animals. Individual or collective, non-binding, retirement was common throughout New Castile until the end of the sixteenth century. It gave poorer women like Inés the possibility of a religious life without the need for a dowry. The seventeenth-century commentators ascribed the initial failure of the Cubas quasi-nunnery to the women's exposure to the world. For whatever reason, Inés as well as other women left and married. "Inés tired of the delicious manna and returned to the onions and garlic [87] of Egypt, an example of human instability and our lack of perseverance in the good." (70)

The beatería was reformed by a holy woman named Juana de la Cruz. Under her leadership (1499-1510), the shrine once again became a pilgrimage center. Juana had revelations and worked miracles; indeed, her body worked miracles even after she died in 1534. Some of her writings are in manuscript in the Escorial; a play was written about her by Tirso de Molina; and biographies of her issued in 1610 and 1622 enjoyed phenomenal success. Juana served as a model for many Third Order Franciscan women of the seventeenth century. It was her memory, not that of Inés, that lasted the longest. That is why the convent is now known as "Santa Juana."

Cubas and Guadalupe

The Cubas apparition is an instance of a phenomenon common throughout Spain beyond a certain radius of very powerful shrines: the formation of a satellite. Satellite shrines meet the needs of people devoted to a shrine image who live too far away for frequent contact. For instance, in Spain today in Almería, Granada, Córdoba, and Ciudad Real, there is a circle of shrines to Our Lady of the Cabeza, about three days away on horseback from the famous shrine in the Sierra Morena.

Naturally the keepers of the major shrine tried to keep distant devotion under their control, whether by the establishment of brotherhoods or by setting up minor shrines by the same name under franchise. The satellite shrines of Montserrat were well organized by its Benedictines in cities throughout Spain where there were major concentrations of Catalans; their income in promises was fed back to the mother shrine. Similarly, in the early seventeenth century, the Minims of San Francisco de Paula tried to control the brotherhoods and images of the popular Our Lady of the Soledad in cities where they had convents, because they had commissioned the original image in Madrid. (71)

Hieronymite monasteries tried to keep a monopoly on publicly venerated images of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a given city, but it was difficult for even the most litigious order to maintain a monopoly over a devotion when they were [88] simultaneously propagating it throughout the land with questors. By the eighteenth century, there were independent shrines of at least district attraction to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Rianxo (Galicia), Fuenterrabia (Basque country), and Ubeda (Andalusia), in addition to the controlled proxy images in Hieronymite monasteries in major cities. That of Ubeda may have originated like that of Cubas. Although there are no documents to prove it, it was supposedly founded after a farmer's vision in 1381. (72) The apparitions at Cubas of a lady eventually identified as Our Lady of Guadalupe in effect established a new satellite shrine.Guadalupe, favored by privileges by the Castilian monarchy and used by them as a palace and a bank, was the richest and most popular shrine in fifteenth-century Castile. Indeed, it maintained its preeminence among Castilian shrines until the nineteenth century, drawing pilgrims from Portugal, the entire Castilian meseta, and Andalusia. The shrine would have been well known in all of the Castilian villages where apparitions took place.

As at most shrines, the legend of the origin of the holy statue was an integral part of the Guadalupe experience. Pilgrims in the fifteenth century not only kissed the slab of marble on which the image was discovered, some of them were cured by drinking scrapings of the rock with water. This custom was common at the tombs of saints. (73) Well into the twentieth century, dirt from the tombs of Santa Marina de Aguas Santas (Orense), San Wentila (Pungín, Orense), and Fray Pedro de Ulloa Santa Maria (Oís, La Coruña) was drunk with water to cure malaria and other sicknesses. (74)

It is not known when the Guadalupe legend was formed. The earliest version I have found is a manuscript dated 1440 in the National Historical Archive. (75) I have translated the relevant passages.

The Guadalupe story begins with the alleged gift of the image of Mary and other relics from Saint Gregory in Rome to Saint Leandro in Seville. When the Moors invaded Spain priests from Seville fled to the north,

After the Moors had taken over most of Spain,
the Lord God was pleased to strengthen the hearts of the Christians so they would go back and recover the lands they had lost. And thus they regained much land held by the Moors. And to make the story short we will tell you of the noble king Don Alfonso, who won from the Moors much of Castile. He fought very great battles with them, especially that of Las Navas de Tolosa, where the holy cross of our lord Jesus Christ was upraised. There he struck them such a blow that they never raised their head again. On this occasion he captured Ubeda, Baeza, and many other places north of the Guadalquivir and in the Sierra Morena. He rested in peace and our lord God took his soul to his holy glory. And his grandson, the king Don Fernando, reigned in Spain and captured the very noble city of Seville and many other towns; and he rested in peace and our lord God took his soul to his holy kingdom.

And his son Don Alfonso reigned, who won Algeciras and died at Gibraltar. And when this king Don Alfonso reigned in Spain, our lady the virgin Saint Mary appeared to a herdsman in the mountains of Guadalupe in the following manner. Some herdsmen were guarding their cows at a place called Halia in a grazing ground known today as the Dehesa de Guadalupe. And one of them found he was missing one of his cows and went hunting for it for three days. Not finding it, he went into the high mountains upriver and into a tall oak grove, and there he saw his cow [90] lying dead near a small spring. When the herdsman saw his cow was dead, he examined it and was surprised that it was not bitten by wolves or wounded in any way. He took his knife from the sheath to butcher it, and when he was opening its breast in the form of a cross, as is customary when butchering, the cow stood up, and the herdsman drew back in great fear.

The cow remained still, and all of a sudden our lady the virgin Saint Mary appeared to the herdsman and said to him, "Have no fear, for I am the mother of God by whom the human race achieved redemption. Take your cow and go and put it with the others, for from this cow you will have many others in memory of this appearance here. After you put it with the other cows, go to your home and tell the clergy and the other people to come to this place where I appear to you and to dig here, and they will find a statue of me." And when our lady told him these things and others mentioned below in this chapter, she suddenly disappeared.

The herdsman took his cow and went with it and left it with the others and told his comrades everything that happened to him. His comrades made fun of him, and the herdsman replied saying, "Friends, do not dismiss these things; if you will not believe me, then believe the mark the cow bears on her breast." When they saw the mark in the shape of a cross the cow carried on her breast, they believed him.

He bade farewell to his comrades and went to his home. And know that wherever he went he told everyone he met about the miracle that had occurred to him. And know that this herdsman was from Cáceres and had a wife and children there, and when he reached his house he found his wife weeping, and he asked her, "Why do you weep?" She replied, "Your son is dead." And he said, "Do not sorrow or cry, for I promise him to Saint Mary of Guadalupe, who will give him back to me alive and well, and I promise him as a servant in her house." And at once the youth arose alive and well and said to his father, "Señor, father, get [91] ready and let us go to Saint Mary of Guadalupe." And all who were there were amazed and believed everything he said about the appearance of our lady Saint Mary.

And this herdsman went to the priests and said to them, "Sirs, know that Saint Mary appeared to me in some mountains near the Guadalupe River and ordered me to tell you to go where she appeared to me and dig in the very spot she appeared and that you would find there a statue of her and that you should take it out and make a house for it. She also ordered me to tell those in charge of her house to give the poor people who came there food once a day. And she also said to me that she would have many people come to her house from many regions because of the many miracles she would work on sea as well as land. She also told me that on that great mountain she would make a large town."

When the clergy and the other people heard these things, they acted at once and went to the place where our lady Saint Mary appeared. As soon as they arrived, they began to dig where the herdsman indicated that Saint Mary appeared to him. Digging there they found a cave like a tomb, and out of it they took an image of our lady Saint Mary, a little bell that was with it, and the stone on which it was resting. And you should know that they broke up all the other stones that were around and took them away as relics. And at once they put up a very small building of stone and green poles and covered it with cork, for you should know that there were many cork trees nearby. And know that many persons sick with diverse ailments came with these people, and as soon as they reached the image of Saint Mary they recovered from all their sicknesses. And they went back to their home lands praising God and his blessed mother for the great miracles and marvels he had worked. The herdsman remained as a guardian with his wife and children and his descendants as servants of Saint Mary.

And since these miracles were manifest in all of Spain, many people came from all regions to visit this image in [92] reverence of Saint Mary for the many miracles and marvels she had worked for them.

Here we are dealing with a fable and not a real event. There is no attempt at documentary proof, no date given for the event, and a 120-km. expedition of priests and sick people to check out a dubious discovery in deserted country seems highly improbable. The ultimate models for the story were probably the hagiographic descriptions of the discovery of saints' bodies. The elements are all here--a divine revelation, a devout messenger, even a tomb. (76) Yet this imitative, ex post facto story provided the same kind of ideological contract for the shrine as the real apparitions.

The Guadalupe story in turn seems to be the inspiration for a number of scenarios of discoveries of buried images, especially in the Segovia region. We saw how the image of Nuestra Señora de la Soterraña, in Santa María la Real de Nieva, was supposedly discovered underground in 1391 after a shepherd saw a sign in the sky. The pattern was repeated and fully documented in relatively modern times at Valverde del Majano (Seg.) (1623) and Bernardos (Seg.) (1728). (77)In the 1455 story of San Antonio del Cerro (discussed below) as at Guadalupe, the critical proof is a very opportune resuscitation.

Guadalupe shares with the legend of Saint Michael of Monte Gargano the ancient theme of a lost animal leading a herdsman to a holy site, and with that of Rocamadour in France and Nuria in the Pyrenees the discovery of an image underground with a bell. The different legend items are like beads; the assembled legends like necklaces. Familiar items are rearranged in apparitions into new patterns. The repetition of individual items maintains a recognizable continuity in divine behavior. A different arrangement and occasionally a new motif distinguish the story of one sacred place from another. All of the shrine legends and actual apparitions feed on the same cultural repertoire, one that at the very least encompasses Iberia, France, and Italy. The more important a( shrine becomes, the more weight it carries in the creation of new scenarios, whether in the minds of creative clerics, in the unconscious of lay [93] visionaries, or in the minds of those who hear what the seers say and by their understanding determine what is written as history.


Documentary evidence for the apparitions of Santa Gadea, Jaén, and Cubas survived because it was the basis for devotions that have continued to the present day. There were doubtless other visions at the time for which testimony was taken but has not survived. Probably a kind of natural selection has favored Marian documents, as opposed to those of other saints. As devotion to saints other than Mary declined, their shrines were not maintained and their archives disbanded.

A second kind of selection occurs in the process of dissemination of vision stories. Marian devotion has been fairly constant since the thirteenth century, so devout people have always been interested in keeping the evidence and letting other people know about it. Documents attesting the apparitions of other saints probably exist, but because over the years few people have bothered to make collections of saints' legends, nobody knows they exist beyond the village where they took place, and I have not heard about them. Even in the village of Navas de San Antonio, studied here, the people and priest were unaware of documentary evidence of the apparition in the parish archive.

The visions of Santa Gadea, Jaén, and Cubas are mentioned in most collections of Spanish Marian legends by the end of the nineteenth century. The next two cases were more difficult to locate. The vision of Saint Anthony I located through a nationwide survey of some seven hundred shrines; that of Saint Michael was in the manuscript reports of parish priests to Cardinal Lorenzana of Toledo in the 1780s.

Apparition traditions in general were rare; those of saints other than the Mother of God were even rarer. Only four out of 464 villages in New Castile reported them in 1580, and three out of 534 in 1780. The ratio of saints: Mary apparition traditions declined from 1:2 in 1580 to 1:8 two hundred years later. (78) Traditions of apparitions of other saints were not given the same weight as the Marian traditions. Two of the towns reporting [94] saints' apparitions in 1580 were surveyed in 1780. In both, the apparitions had been forgotten in the intervening years. Yet all those towns with Marian apparition legends in 1580 that were also surveyed in 1780 remembered them. Selective memory discriminated against the saints, since generally they were more specialized and less powerful helpers, and more subject to replacement.

Hence Jeanne d'Arc, who from 1424 until her execution in 1431 regularly saw Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, and occasionally Michael the Archangel, may have been the exception and not the rule for late medieval seers. In Spain, visions of Mary among lay persons outnumbered those of all other saints combined. In this respect Jeanne's competitor, Catherine de la Rochelle, who in 1430 had regular visions of a lady dressed in white (as in Jaén and Santa Gadea) was more typical.

The two saints who may have "appeared" in Castile are fitting exceptions. Anthony of Padua's fame as a miracle worker and preacher was widespread even before his death in 1232. Today he is still the most frequently invoked saint in Spain, after Mary. Throughout Europe the Archangel Michael was considered one of the most powerful divine figures from the sixth century until the early modern period.

Anthony of Padua, Navas de Zarzuela (Segovia), 1455

Navas de Zarzuela is now known as Navas de San Antonio because of a shrine that supposedly originated in an apparition in 1455. The present shrine appears to have been built in the sixteenth century. It is reverently administered by a brotherhood of townspeople. The traditional procession of brothers on the feast days is a popular event in the region, attended by busloads of emigrants now living in Madrid, and was included in the film Marcelino Pan y Vino (see Figure 6).


In the fifteenth century, the village produced and processed wool. Now the villagers have large and prosperous herds of milk cows. Their continued prosperity perhaps explains in part the maintenance in a rather pristine form of the old devotion. Some of the most prosperous rural areas of Spain, such as Navarre and parts of Rioja, have best preserved old traditions [95] and customs, even if the economic base of their prosperity is completely modern.

Under the choir loft in the nave of the shrine of Saint Anthony hang two large framed transcriptions, in very large print, of the original notarial affidavit of the apparition story. One is apparently from the sixteenth or seventeenth century, the other from the late nineteenth century. Because the oldest tabla is mutilated (washings appear to have removed much of the text, and it was used as a bulletin board), the best earliest copy of the document is one in the parish archive dated 1737. The 1455 original, on three sheets of parchment, was lost by the seventeenth century, when a transcription was made from the tabla for a legal dispute over control of the shrine between the priest of Zarzuela and the Navas brotherhood. (79)

In Spain devotion to Anthony of Padua partially absorbed that to Anthony the Abbot, protector of animals. At the shrine of Los Santos Antonios de Urquiola (Vizcaya), the figure of Anthony of Padua had to be added to that of Anthony the Abbot because of confusion between the two. (82)

A third major shrine to Anthony also points up the connection. San Antonio del Tiemblo is located in the Avila town of El Tiemblo, near the pass over the Guadarrama mountains between Toledo and Avila. (83) Like the other two Antonine shrines, it is on a main road near a pass. It is also on a cañada, or transhumant sheep route. Another cañada passes through Navas precisely where the shrine is. In fact transhumant shepherds used to sleep at the shrine guesthouse within living memory. Both shrines were undoubtedly used to seek protection for sheep (and now milk cows) and to find lost animals.

One of the ways Anthony of Padua used to be portrayed was with a mule. The legend behind this depiction was that the mule's owner, who did not believe in the real presence of Christ in the holy sacrament, was converted when his mule knelt before Anthony, who was carrying a consecrated host. Is there a hint of this legend in the Segovia story, when the saint appears to Juan when Juan is looking for a burro?

A cañada also ran through Guadalupe, and the Saint Anthony apparition shares with the Guadalupe legend the most dramatic part of the proof: the resurrection of a dead person in front of the assembled funeral procession. In both cases, when the dead person awakens, they confirm the intervention of the saint.

The Saint Anthony story has in common with the Cubas visions the demeanor of the appearing saints and the language they use. Both treat the young visionaries with familiarity. Certain phrases are repeated (Cubas: fija por que non dijiste lo [100] que te mande ayer decir? Navas: di niño porque no a dho lo que te mande?; Cubas: Catta que te mando digas a los del pueblo . . . Navas: Cata que te mando que lo digas . . . ).

Michael the Archangel, Navalagamella (Madrid), 1455

The parish priests of Fresnedillas and Navalagamella, a little south of El Escorial in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama, reported in the 1780 survey the 1455 apparition of Saint Michael to a shepherd. (84) Their descriptions were based on records in the parish and town archives of Navalagamella and, very likely, on a book entitled Grandezas de San Miguel Archangel, published around 1760 in Madrid, which included a chapter on the apparition. The author of the book obtained a notarized copy of the first investigation made in 1520, 65 years after the event, from the Navalagamella town archive. (85)

I have been unable to find a copy of the investigation or of another one made in 1617, so the story must be treated with circumspection. In an ecclesiastical inquiry from 1610 to 1618 some of the townspeople claimed the story was a fabrication. The story as it appears in the book is as follows:

Sánchez, who lived in the hamlet of Los Degollados, did not dare tell the story. After a few days he woke up crippled, his legs folded back at the knees so that his calves stuck to his thighs, and his heels touched his buttocks. His employer, Pedro García de Ayuso, tried to cure him with herbs and oils, but to no avail. When Sánchez finally told his story, García de Ayuso [101] called in the authorities. They carried Sánchez to the apparition site, where they found the tree with the hand-mark on it. They then marked off the site for a chapel and carried Sánchez in a devout procession to the parish church. There a mass was said for the shepherd's health, attended by people from the surrounding towns. At the words ite missa est Sánchez stood up, cured. He became the keeper of the shrine.

Some of the children in the procession -- Pedro Sánchez, weaver; Alonso Martín, maker of roof-tiles; and Pedro González -- were still alive and able to testify at the investigation made by the mayor and scrivener of the town on February 14, 1520.

Miguel Sánchez's vision of his namesake follows the standard pattern. Unless there are corroborative witnesses, the visionary must have some kind of proof to be believed. Miguel's contorted body is a proof similar to the crossed fingers of Inés at Cubas, and as at Cubas, when the villagers go with the seer to the shrine site, they find the mark of the saint.

The imprint of the saint's hand on the oak tree links the story with the tradition of Monte Gargano and takes us out of Spain as surely as the reference to the burning bush took us to Saint Catherine's shrine in the Sinai. The legend of the discovery of the shrine to Michael on Monte Gargano in Apulia by a shepherd hunting an ox is still repeated in the Roman martyrology. The shrine in a mountain cave became very popular throughout Western Europe in the seventh century, partly due to a Lombard victory in 663 over the Saracens that they ascribed to Saint Michael's intervention. (86) The French Mont Saint Michel is thought to derive from the Gargano cult in the eighth century. Legend had it that the Lombard victors found the imprint of Michael's foot near the south door of his temple when they went to render thanks to God for their victory.

[102] Still in the twentieth century, pilgrims to the shrine, in memory of this footprint, outline their own hands or feet and add their initials on the steps of the shrine as they leave. The handprint on the tree in Navalagamella may be connected with the legendary footprint, the pilgrim handprints, or both. By 1782, when the priest reported to the archbishop, there was no vestige of the tree; he presumed the villagers had gradually removed it for use as relics. The shrine still exists, rather barren; and a romería is held there every year which villagers of Navalagamella and Fresnedillas attend. The brotherhood still exists. In recent years the priests who have served the village have considered the devotion slightly superstitious and have not promoted it.

The cult of Saint Michael in Spain, to judge from church dedications and place names, peaked by the thirteenth century. (88) As in many parts of Europe, many of Michael's shrines were located near mountain tops, where they may have replaced pre-Christian devotions. Two shrines to Michael remain today with regional significance: San Miguel de Aralar, the most important shrine in the traditionalist, Basque-speaking sector of Navarre, consecrated in 1074 on the site of an earlier shrine; (89) and San Miguel de Liria, a shrine maintained by a religious community on a hilltop twenty-five km. northwest of Valencia. The Navalagamella story does not resemble the legends of either shrine.

Both the Navas and the Navalagamella visions were of a male saint calling for a brotherhood in 1455. In all likelihood one influenced the other. But both are hazy in regard to dates, and one does not know which came first. The towns were not far apart; both were in the jurisdiction of the city of Segovia, and the villagers of Navalagamella may have had to pass through Navas on their way to the city. They may even have shared grazing grounds in the mountains.

Even more than the Saint Anthony vision, that of Saint Michael resembles that of Mary in Cubas, fifty km. south, only six years before. In addition to the parallel proofs--contortions and prints--both seers served after the visions as keepers of the shrine. In the years following the visions, pilgrims from as far as one hundred km. away went to Cubas to be cured or to give [103] thanks for cures. Although the miracles recorded do not mention Navalagamella, there were pilgrims from Cebreros, San Martin de Valdeiglesias (where the two-and-a-half-year-old knew about Cubas) and Valdemaqueda, all towns beyond Navalagamella to the northwest.

The skein of replication continued. An innovation in the Saint Michael vision was that the shepherd's body was released from its contortion at the end of the mass, at the words ite missa est. Similarly, about forty years later, a visionary from a village north of Segovia was freed from her contortion (her mouth would not open) at the end of a special mass, when she spit out two mouthfuls of water.

Escalona (Segovia), c. 1490

Visions very much like those of Inés in Cubas occurred in the village of Escalona, about thirty km. north of Segovia, around 1490. The town clergy made a retrospective canonical investigation in 1617, with authority from the diocese, and questioned thirteen villagers about the original visions, the shrine, the relic cross, popular devotion, miracles, and votive offerings. The following testimony of Maria Herranz, aged about sixty, was taken on October 23, 1617. It is her answer to the question about the apparitions. (90)


seer: Joana, servant of Sancho Herrero

  In the process of the inquiry, on April 1, 1618, the investigators visited and described the shrine and its altar, including a painting that may have represented the apparition. "The Mother of God is painted with a golden skirt and a blue mantle, kneeling and embracing a gilded cross. From the nail of the cross issues an inscription that goes around above the crown and behind the Virgin, which reads in very old and large letters, salbe crux preciosa que in corpore xpi, dedicata est et ex menbris eyus tan quam margaritis. And then on the other side of the cross is a girl dressed in red in old style clothes with blond [or brown] hair let down without a coif. And she is kneeling adoring the cross and the Virgin, and at her knees is painted a fallow field that is very green with five stumps in it." The reredos was made in 1499, "in honor and reverence of Our Lady and reverence of the Cross," according to an inscription. So the visions of Joana occurred sometime before that. (94)

As at Cubas, the cross the Virgin embraced had become the center of devotion by the late sixteenth century. Its use in the ritual dispersal of a hailstorm in 1611 was in part responsible for the revival of interest in the shrine and was reported extensively in the 1617-1618 investigation. Pilgrims nipped off splinters with their teeth when they kissed it, and it had to be protected by a display case.

When I visited Escalona in 1977 and 1978, Mary, rather than the Cross, was once more the center of devotion. Devotion to Mary of the Cross is quite deep in Escalona, and the shrine is well maintained by a brotherhood. During the annual novena in September an ancient painting of Mary appearing to Joana, barely distinguishable, is placed at the center of the altar (see Figure 7).

[110] The similarities between the episodes of Escalona and Cubas are striking. Mary knelt before the cross at Cubas, embraced it as at Escalona. The seers, both girls (although Joana is referred to exclusively as a moza, and thus may have been slightly older than Inés) see Mary in the countryside. Mary asks them what they are doing, then gives them her message. Both are eventually touched by the Virgin and given a deformity as proof. Both are taken to the site of the visions in a procession. The cross remains as a prized relic in both towns, and both seers first retire from the world, then escape to marry in distant parts. The confusion is compounded because Joana became Joana de la Crux shortly before a holy woman of the same name, Inés's successor, as it were, was performing miracles and reorganizing the Cubas convent.

One also wonders about the influence of the apparition of Saint Michael of Navalagamella. Joana's sign was undone, like the shepherd Miguel's, at the words ite missa est. Is it coincidence that Saint Michael was the only other saint painted on the reredos of the Escalona chapel in 1499 ? (95) It is not entirely coincidental that retrospective investigations of both the Escalona and the Navalagamella visions were made in the same years, 1617-1618, in their respective dioceses. For throughout Spain in the first two decades of the seventeenth century, in a delayed reaction to the Council of Trent, extensive (but not exactly rigorous) investigations were carried out to justify the depiction of miracles and visions in churches.

Yet anyone who reads the transcripts of the Cubas and Escalona investigations will be convinced of the authenticity of the documents and the incidents. We are not dealing with literary imitation, (96) but a real life imitation, a scenario revised and replayed in a new setting. 

Notes for Chapter One

1. Annie Molinié-Bertrand, "Le Clergé dans le royaume de Castille a la fin du XVIe siécle," Revue d'hístoire économique et sociale 51 (1973) 5-53.

2. Mischa Titiev, "A Fresh Approach to the Problem of Magic and Religion," Southwestern journal of Anthropology 16:3 (1960) 292-298.

3. Narciso Camós, Iardin de Maria plantado en el principiado de Cataluña (Barcelona, Iayme Plantada, 1657). The latest edition was published by Editorial Orbis, Barcelona, 1949. I cite (as Jardín) the 1657 edition.

4. Stephen Sharbrough, "The Cult of the Mother in Europe: The Transformation of the Symbolism of Woman." Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Dept. of History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977.

5. Eric R. Wolf, "Society and Symbols in Latin Europe and in the Islamic Near East: Some Comparisons," Anthropological Quarterly 42:3 (1969) 287-301.

6. Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1981).

7. PatrickGeary, Furta Sacra (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1978).

8. Alfonso el Sabio, Setenario, ed. Kenneth H. Vanderford (Buenos Aires, Instituto de Filología, 1945) 73-76.

9. Eduard Junyent, personal communication.

10. For more on the Castilian legends and the Relaciones topográficas of Philip II see Christian, Local Religion, 75-91.

11. Legends from the Relaciones: San Pablo To II 392-3; Iniesta Cu I 32; Almonacid de Toledo To I 64-5; Fuenlabrada M 269; Cubas M 212; Hontova G IV 143; Ventas con Peña Aguilera To II 218-9; Daimiel Crosses CR 238-243; Daimiel Peace CR 237.

12. Jean Delumeau, La Mart des pays de Cocagne (Paris, Université de Paris, 1976) 65-6. Lucien Febvre, Le Probléme de I'incroyance au XVIe siècle (Paris, A. Michel, 1962).

Santa Gadea

13. My source is a transcript of the original document in fifteenth-century script made in or after 1471 on a large parchment (AHN Clero, Carpeta 373, No. 15). The parchment does not have a notary's signature, and appears to have been destined for display in the shrine, for the apparition text is followed by a transcript of indulgences. In the Spanish version in the appendix below, I have put in brackets additional words or significant variants in a seventeenth-century transcript in the parish archive, as printed by Luciano Huidobro Serna in "Nuestra Señora del Espino en Santa Gadea del Cid (Burgos)" (Lérida, Imprenta Mariana, 1922). The text of the 1410 proceso is in AHN Clero Carpeta 373 No. 3, 1-7. There are licences for questors and mentions of miracles in AHN Clero Legajo 1366.

14. In 1399 "Santa Maria de Marzo" (presumably March 25, the Annunciation) was Tuesday of Holy Week. This was the day Pedro and Juan discovered the beehive. It was therefore the following day, "miércoles de tiniebras," that they went to the honey and had their vision. Assuming that "el jueves s guiente" means "the following Thursday," Pedro would have had the second, explanatory vision the next day. By the same token his beating took place either Easter eve or Easter night and the public declaration was Easter morning or Easter Monday. But it is strange that Sunday in the document is not referred to as Easter. The document was drawn up Sunday, April 20 three weeks after Easter. It would appear to constitute a second formal, notarized retelling by Pedro of what happened to him.

15. AHN Clero Leg. 1366 No. 1.

16. AHN Clero Carp. 373 No. 3, f. 6.

17. Mahfouz Labib, Pélerins et voyageurs au Mont Sinai (Le Caire, Instituí Franjáis d'archéologie oriéntale, 1961) 50-51.

18. Kurt Weitzmann, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Sinai: The Icons (6th-10th century) (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1976) Plate XXVIII, 70-71; also his "Icon Painting in the Crusader Kingdom," Dunbarton Oaks Papers 20 (1966) 67, fig. 35, for a version from the thirteenth century.

19. Jean de Mandeville's account was perhaps the most widely read around 1400. Heinz Skrobucha, Sinai (London, Oxford University Press, 1966) 36-40.

20. E. Misset, Une Eglise de Victorins en Champagne; Notre Dame de l'Épine prés Chálons-sur-Marne; la legende, l'histoire, le monument et le pèlerinage (Paris, Honoré Champion, 1902) 96, 28-41.

21. Legend was first published in P. Poiré, Le Triple Couronne. It can be read in Hamon, Notre Dame de France (7 vols., Paris, Plon, 1862-1866) V (1865) 402; and J. B. Drochon, Histoire illustrée des pèlerinages de la Très Sainte Vierge (Paris, Plon, 1892) 1214. Puiseux, Notre Dame de l'Épine; son histoire, son pèlerinage (Chálons-sur-Marne, Martin Fréres, 1910) 24, has the engraving, cf. Misset, Une Église, 48-51.

22. Acta Sanctorum, Vol. 1 (1643), January 11, 708-712.

23. Labib, Pèlerins, 38.

24. Alfonso el Sabio, Las Siete Partidas, trans. Samuel Parsons Scott (Chicago, Commerce Clearing House, 1931) Part 1 Title X, Law X (p. 160).

25. Alfonso el Sabio, Setenario, 47: Ca antoiança el nombre muestra que non es ssinon commo cosa que sse parase ante los oios e sse tolliese luego, ssegunt lo que vee o lo que oye arrebatadamiente, e por ende non es firmeza ninguna.

26. See note 48 below.

27. Alonso de Venero [O.P.], Enchiridio delos tiempos, 4th ed. (Burgos, Juan de Junta, 1551) cxxi r: . . . a intercession de la vmagen de la virgen Maria que fue hallada en el mesmo lugar: cerca de los años del Señor de Mcccc.


28. The original document, a parchment 40.5 cm. x 61 cm. in script appropriate for the time, is in the parish church of San Ildefonso. It appears to be genuine. I greatly revised the version published by Vicente Montuno Morente, Nuestra Señora de la Capilla: Madre, Patraña, y Reina de Jaén (Ensayo histórico) (Madrid, Blass Tipografía, 1950) 305-313, Información testifical del descenso de Nuestra Señora.

29. Montuno Morente, Nuestra Señora de la Capilla, 35-39.

30.  in the original left blank; in a copy published in 1639 "eight hundred."

31. dunghill, rubbish heap, or midden

32. María Sánchez could not identify the beata. Subsequent portrayals of the event in Jaén depict her as Saint Catherine, who supposedly aided in the capture of the city by Fernando el Santo, and to whom the castle on a bluff outside the town is dedicated (Montuno Morente, 49, note). Another possibility is Saint Leocadia. The legend of her appearance to Saint Ildefonsus and her praise for his Marian devotion was widely diffused.

33. Montuno Morente, Nuestra Señora de la Capilla, 139-164.

34. Ibid., Plate XVI, 100-106.

35. Sister Athanasius Braegelmann, The Life and Writings Of Saint Ildefonsus of Toledo, Studies in Medieval History, New Series, Vol. 4 (Catholic University of America, Washington D. C., 1942). Braegelmann's translation is from p. 24; life by Cixila in Patrologia Latina, XCVI c. 46.

36. Braegelmann, Life, 28; A. Mussafia, "Studien zu den mittelalterlichen Marienlegenden," I, II, III, Sitzungsberichte der Wienen Akademie, phil..-hist. Klasse, CXIII (1886) 917-994;CXV (1888) 5-93; CXIX (1889) 1-66; and L. Villecourt, "Les collections árabes des miracles de la sainte vierge," Analecta Bollandiana XLII (1924) 21-68.

37. Relaciones To III 496, 528, 540, 545.

38. Barcelona, Dietari I 238 (II-8-1425) and 251 (VI-6-1427). Procession of king in 1390, I 3.

39.J. Vives in DHEE IV 2245 gives references. Also E. Bayerri Bertomeu, Los códices medievales de la Catedral de Tortosa (Tortosa, Gráficos Algueró, 1962) 447-449. A. Durand, L'Écrin de la Sainte Vierge (Lille, Desclée, 1885) 107-242.

40. Montuno Morente, Nuestra Señora de la Capilla, 379-390.


41. Pierre Tisset ed., Le Procés et condemnation de Jeanne d'Arc (Paris, Klincksieck, 1970) Vol. 2, 65-67.

42. Bede, Ecclesiastical History, II 6; Caesarius, Dialogue, II 501-502, 26, 52-3; Sánchez, Libro exenplos, 70-71.

43. Gaspar Calvo Moralejo, "Santa María de la Cruz," Antonianum 50 (1975) 561-575, and "Santa María de la Cruz; Apariciones marianas en el siglo xv y nueva advocación de la Virgen," Cuadernos de historia de la Teología, 5 (Santiago, El Eco Franciscano, 1979).

The Cubas text given here is a transcription made by Joaquín Díaz from the original and from another transcription in 1789. It is a leather-bound cuaderno kept in the Cubas convent. The existence of the original is mentioned in the relación of Cubas to Philip II (M 212-213). A history by Antonio Daga (1610) cites directly from the original or an earlier transcription. The contents of the 1789 cuaderno are as follows:


1-8, declaration of Inés, March 10, 1449, Cubas.

8r-llv, declaration of Inés, March 21, 1449, Cubas.

12r-23r, presentation of the official commission from Archbishop Alonso Carrillo for an investigation, including versions of the foregoing declarations forwarded to the archbishop.

25r-72v, interrogation of 21 witnesses, beginning with Inés on April 23, 1449.

75v-138, 68 miracles from 1449 to 1600, recorded by village notaries.

There are two versions of the first depositions of Inés--that taken down directly (1r-11v), and an edited version sent to the archbishop (12r-23r). I have translated the first, putting the few variants in substance from the second in brackets. I am indebted to Fr. Gaspar Calvo Moralejo and the Franciscan Sisters of Santa María de la Cruz for their assistance.

44. after an hour

45. variants reported by other witnesses Inés had spoken to: did not see it, and believed; blessed will be those who see it and believe it.

46. Cubas cuaderno, 48r, 63v, 60r, 62v.

47. Ibid., 64v-68r.

48. Ibid., 57rv.

49. Ibid., 39r, 46r, 62r, also Inés: "muy chiquita," 47r.

50. Ibid., 38r, 57v, 63r.

51. Pedro Navarro, Favores de el Rey de el Cielo hechos a su esposa la santa Juana de la Cruz . . . (Madrid, Thomas Iunti, 1622) 21.

52. Soterraña: the basic legend is given in Esteban de Garibay, Compendio historial de las chronicas . . . (Anvers, Christophoro Plantino, 1571) II 1049, but not the proof of a hand stuck to a stone, which is in Diego de Colmenares, Historia de Segovia [1637] (Segovia, 1969) I 230-232.

Risco: Juan de Villafañe, Compendio histórico en que se da noticia de las milagrosas, y devotas imágenes . . . , 2nd ed. (Salamanca, 1740) 500 ff. Carrodilla: Camós, Jardín, 178-184.

Sogas: Camós, Jardín, 244-250.

Carramia: Camós, Jardín, 230-231.

Prado: Roque Alberto Fací, Aragón, Reyno de Christo y dote de María SSma (Zaragoza, Joseph Fort, 1739) Part 2, 163.

Pueyo: Faci, Aragón, Part 2, 79.

53. Eloy Benito Ruano, Toledo en el siglo XV; vida política (Madrid, C.S.I.C., 1961).

54. For razzias of the Navarrese see the Relaciones of Fuencarral (M 258), Esquivias (To 1401), Berniches (G130), Jadraque (G I 266-267), and Tendilla (G III 71), and Fidel Fita, "Fuencarral. Su destrucción a mediados del siglo xv. Datos inéditos," Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 35 (1899) 359-364. Paracuellos abductions Cubas cuaderno, 98r-99v.

55. The Marian days observed in the diocese of Toledo in 1449 were the Purification, the Annunciation, Saint Mary of the Snows, the Assumption, the Nativity of Mary, and the Expectation (José Sánchez Herrero, Concilios provinciales y sínodos toledanos de los siglos XIV y XV, Universidad de La Laguna, Estudios de Historia, 2, 1976; see texts of synods of 1356 and 1379).

56. Jean Céard, La Nature et les prodiges; I'insolite au XVIe siècle (Geneva, Droz, 1977) 76, 259. Fernán Pérez de Guzmán, Crónica del Señor Rey Don Juan Segundo (Valencia, Benito Monfort, 1779) 383-384.

57. "La Pistola de Sant Miquel," text in Daniel de Molins de Rei, "Notes sobre la 'Lletra caiguda del Cel,' Les versions catalanes en prosa," Estudis Franciscans 43 (1931) 79: pedrés tallants he calents del cell ... he les pedrés serán mesclades ab sanch, de que mataran ha vosaltres he ha vostres fylls e filies.

58. Sebastiano Rumor, Storia documentata del Santuario di Monte Berico (Vicenza, Officina gráfica pontificia S. Giuseppe, 1911) Processo 397-428. For a similar story, including the planting of a cross by a Mary-girl in 1420, see Antonio M. Vicentini, Storia documentata del santuario di S. Maria della Crocetta in Godego (Vicenza, Giovanni Galla, n.d., ca. 1920). This vision is not well documented.

59. The earliest source I know of for the Caravaggio story is the Latin inscription on a painting at the shrine around 1638, transcribed by Donato Calvi (b. 1613) in Delle grandezze della Madonna Santissima del Sacro Fonte di Caravaggio (Milano, G. Batista Messaggi, 1832) 38-40. The shrine was important at least as early as 1470 (135-136).

60. Cubas cuaderno, 79v.

61. Thomas N. Tetler, "The Problem of Anxiety and Preparation for Death in Luther, Calvin, and Erasmus." Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Dept. of History, Harvard University, 1961.

62. Cubas cuaderno, 119v-120r.

63. On saludadores: Pedro de Ciruelo, Reprobación de las supersticiones y hechizerias rev. ed. (Salamanca, Pedro de Castro, 1541) Part III, Ch. 7; Antonio Torquemada, Iardin de flores curiosas (Salamanca, luán Baptista de Terranoua, 1570) 161.

64. In Griñón an Informazion was made June 21, 1569 by order of the señor of the village (and of Cubas) Alonso de Mendoza y Toledo. An eighteenth-century transcription in the parish archive of Griñón has 43 numbered pliegos (182 pages). Sixteen miracles were recorded from July 3, 1569, to April 3, 1570.

65. Cubas cuaderno, ll0r.

66. lbid., 41v.

67. Ibid., 136r-138r.

68. Relaciones M 212-213.

69. Antonio Daga, Historia, vida, y milagros, extasis, y revelaciones de la bienaventurada virgen santa luana de la Cruz (Madrid, Luis Sánchez, 1610); Navarro, Favores, 1622; additional bibliography in the essays of G. Calvo Moralejo, note 41 above.

70. Navarro, Favores, 43.


71. Anselm Albareda, Historia de Montserrat, 5th ed. rev. (Montserrat, 1974); Germán Rubio, Historia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Barcelona, Industrias Gráficas Thomás, 1926). Guadalupe in Madrid in 1604: Jeronimo de Quintana, Historia de la antiguedad, nobleza, y grandeza de la Villa de Madrid, Imprenta del Reyno, 1629 (Madrid, Artes Gráficas Municipales, 1954) 895-896. Minims and La Soledad: Antonio Ares, Discurso del Ilustre Origen (1640) 234v-235v.

72. Rubio, Historia de Guadalupe, 51.

73. Diego de Ecija, Libro de la invención de esta santa imagen de Guadalupe (Cáceres, Biblioteca extremeña, 1953) 49, also AHN Clero, Cod. 101, 5v-6 (ca. 1500).

74. Galician shrines: personal communications, shrine keepers and villagers, 1978. See William A. Christian Jr., "La Religiosidad Popular, Hoy," in J. A. Duran ed., Galicia, Realidad económica y conflicto social (La Coruña, Imprenta La Voz de Galicia, 1978) 551-569.

75. AHN Clero Cod. 48 B 5v-8v. This history of the foundation of the monastery appears to have been written, possibly by Fr. Alonso de la Rambla, for use in sermons or in guiding pilgrims (viz. the frequent use of sabed que . . . ) sometime between 1400 and 1440. A different writer made additions and corrections on the original, but I have omitted them. A later códice (AHN Clero Códice 101) that dates from around 1500 appears to be a more literary version of this one.

76. On the pattern of discoveries of relics, Patrick Geary, Furta Sacra, 12, 46, 154-157.

77. The image of Nuestra Señora del Sepulcro was found in a grave in Valverde del Majano (Segovia) on November 27, 1623. The original expediente with the testimony of four witnesses, drawn up by Pedro Arias Davila on May 11, 1624, is in the parish archive. For Bernardos (Segovia), Ildefonso Llorente Fernández, Historia de la aparición de la Virgen del Castillo . . . (Valladolid, Julián Pastor e hijos, 1867), and Rufino Nuñez, Bernardos y su Virgen del Castillo (Segovia, 1928).

78. Legends of apparitions in the towns of New Castile (excluding the Province of Cuenca) as reported by town elders 1575-1580 to Philip II and town priests 1782-1786 to Cardinal Lorenzana:

                        1575-1580 (464 towns)             1782-1786 (534 towns)

Mary                         7                                                 25

Saints                         4                                                 3

Crosses                      0                                                 2

Navas de Zarzuela

79. The transcript was made by the notary Juan Negrillo of Segovia. It is in the parish archive in a book labeled Legajo 4, numero 3, Testimonio dela Aparicion de S. Anto. y Papeles tocantes asu Capillan, y Cappnia. The pages are unnumbered.

80. The date of the document is not correct, and its chronology uncertain. In 1455, August 4 was a Monday, not a Friday. The first apparition is not dated; the second was on the sixteenth of an unspecified month; and the third apparition is also undated. The cure of the woman appears to have happened the day before the procession, which was on the 28th of some month, and the document, dated August 4, appears to have been drawn up later, with the final miracle of September 10 appended.

81. I have translated official peraile as "clothmaker" rather than simply as "carder." In Barcelona a peraire was the owner of the cloth, who might do several operations, including carding, beating, drying, and dyeing. Similarly, for Castile it is a general term from which weavers and dyers began to distinguish themselves around 1430. The perailes of Las Navas might have been substantial citizens, relatively speaking.

Throughout the fifteenth century, textile craftsmen formed guilds in Castile, first of perailes (as in Cuenca by 1428), then of specialists. In rural Catalonia perailes at this time had the most goods of all artisans. One in 1461 had many books, including a rhymed New Testament, story books, and works of grammar, logic, and philosophy. J. Serra Vilaró, Baronies de Pinos i Mataplana (Barcelona, Ed. Balmes, 1947) Vol. 2 378; Pierre Bonnassie, La Organización del trabajo en Barcelona a fines del siglo XV (Barcelona, C.S.I.C., 1975), Anuario de Estudios Medievales, Anejo 8, 16; Paulino Iradiel Murugarren, Evolución de la industria textil castellana, XIII-XVI [Acta Salamanticensis 84 (1974)] 12, 78; Sorterraña Martín Postigo, "Expediente para reformar las ordenanzas del obraje de los paños hechos en 1500," Estudios Segovianos 15 (1953), 363-412.

82. Urquiola: Benito de Vizcarra y Arana, Reseña histórica del multisecular santuario de los Santos Antonios de Urquiola (Vitoria, Imp. del Montepío Diocesano, 1932).

83. El Tiemblo: The brotherhood of San Antonio in El Tiemblo has been in existence at least since 1542, the date of the oldest ledger kept there now. There is no legend; only that the saint was chosen by lottery. The zone of attraction of the shrine is largely the southern slope of the Guadarrama, especially the adjacent area of the province of Toledo. In this it complements the Navas shrine, which draws devotion almost exclusively from the northern slopes. Interview with D. Julio González, parish priest of El Tiemblo, VI


84. Relaciones del Cardenal Lorenzana, ADT Navalagamella (Madrid), X-18-1782, and Fresnedillas (Madrid) 111-17-1783.

85. The only copy of Grandezas de San Miguel Archangel I have seen is in the parish archive; it is damaged, and the title page is missing. The chapter on Navalagamella is pp. 104-121. I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the parish priest, D. Enrique Herrero García.

86. Armando Petrucci, "Origine e diffusione del culto di San Michele nell' Italia medievale," in Michel Baudot ed., Cuite de Saint Michel et Pélerinages au Mont (Paris, Lethielleux, 1971), Vol. 3. of Millénaire Monastique du Mont Saint-Michel.

87. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum, saec. vi-ix (Hannover, 1878) [1964] 542.

88. Moreu-Rey, "La Dévotion à Saint Michel dans les pays catalans," in Baudot, Culte de Saint Michel, 369-388.

89. José M. Jimeno Jurio, San Miguel de Aralar (Pamplona, Dip. Foral de Navarra, n.d.) 10-12.


90. "Informacion judicial de testigos" (X-17-1617 to IV-1-1618) made by the parish priest Juan Mancio Davila before the notary Juan de Adrados with permission of the provisor general of the Diocese, Salazar. The información was approved April 7, 1618, by Pedro Suárez de la Concha. I used a first copy of 95 folios in the parish archive, and a Miracle Register that had in it a history of hermits at the shrine, dated 1618. Some of the material was published in a booklet by Francisco Sanz de Frutos, Historia de Nuestra Señora de la Cruz (Vitoria, Hijos de Pujol, 1887). I am indebted to D. Mariano Tejedor, parish priest of Escalona, for his help.

91. Similar explanations for holy springs drying up due to profanation are found at one of the Italian Marys of the Cross, Monte Berico, where the apparition spring dried up in 1509, supposedly because a man watered his sick horse there, and at the Font Santa of Jafre, below.

92. Escalona "Informacion" 32r.

93. Escalona miracle register, 37-8.

94. Escalona "Informacion" 91v-92r.

95. Ibid., 91 v.

96. Such a duplication would theoretically have been possible, as at least two printed books had by 1617 described the Cubas apparitions-those of Pedro de Salazar (1607) and Antonio Daça (1610). But such a fraud would have entailed the collaboration of the entire town of Escalona and leaves unexplained the shrine, its paintings, and its relic cross.