|The Cruz de la Carne in its deluxe silver holder or monstrance, |
in a photo grabbed from ZamoraNews.
The Middle Ages came together with the present day in a spectacular way today, Ash Wednesday, in my history-soaked Zamora.
|Onlookers like me and the paparazzi prepare for the new rite. |
This and all following photos and video 2021 Jessica Knauss
As I'm sure you're aware, we're in a global viral pandemic. As the strangely prescient release of We All Fall Down emphasized, this is not the first such health crisis, not by far.
|The bishop processes from the main altar and reads a prayer.|
I guess the Cruz de la Carne fell out of Zamora's devotion, in spite of its prominent placement in one of the chapels in the cathedral, because we've had our share of COVID losses, like everywhere else. Before the pandemic, the Bishop of Zamora passed away and is now buried in the floor behind the choir in the cathedral.
Just last December, Zamora finally got a new bishop. He came to us from Murcia, and apparently, is looking to make his mark. He learned about the legend of Ruperto and declared that every Friday during Lent this year, the Cruz de la Carne would be the protagonist of a special prayer at the north door. They decided to start observing this rite today, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Today, I didn't attend mass, as I didn't want to occupy one of only 25 spots because I'm not Catholic and wouldn't want to get the ashes on my forehead. That spot should go to someone else. But I went to the cathedral door to witness the rite and absorb the medieval atmosphere. It felt a little like the old days, arriving at a beautiful, historical spot in Zamora to wait for an event, like Holy Week, but with social distancing.
The Bishop himself said prayers asking for the end of the current pandemic and displayed the Cruz to all the cardinal points, thus reestablishing the worship of the Cruz de la Carne in Zamora and keeping the legend alive.
Personally, I don't find the relic itself pretty to look at--what kind of flesh is it?--but I do feel the pull of history when I'm in its presence.
As readers of this blog know, I'm passionately devoted to medieval Spanish history, and get a particular frisson of delight when I come across medieval legends or miracles. I hope this kind of devotion suffices. If so, we have already officially kicked this pandemic's butt.