Monday, November 15, 2010

200 posts and a legend

Okay, this is my 200th post. That may not sound like much, especially considering I started this blog way back in January of 2007, but I've been hibernating for nearly two of those years, so I'd say I haven't done so badly after all.

And to celebrate, I'm giving away a trip to Hawaii!!!


Nope, I don't have any prizes, other than the sheer pleasure of reading my ever-so-fascinating blog posts. And today, since I just recently shared a picture of the patron saint of lost socks that I took in the Burgos Cathedral, I thought I'd show you some more interesting things I found there.  But I'm not going to give you all the blah blah on the cathedral's history or anything like that. For that you can look here if you want.

No, I'm going to show you some stuff from a slightly, ahem, different point of view from that found in the guidebooks.

First we have this:

Okay, they don't leave this out, but I forgot what they say about it.  So I'll make something up.  Could this be a stairway to heaven? If it is, why is the door all blocked in then? Evil forces at work? Or maybe heaven's all full up. I wonder if there's any point in behaving ourselves then...

And if you look up, you can't miss this:

But why are they there? My theory is that these must have been patrons of the cathedral. Maybe the more money they donated, the higher their heads got to be. I can just imagine the kids of all these people looking up to wave and shout, "Hey Dad, look at me! Look at me!"  And a lot of, "Na na na na na, my dad is higher than your dad."  That statement would have a whole different meaning today, but back then the higher you were, the better.  Then again, it seems that the psychoactive properties of cannabis had already been described by some Moorish guy living in Spain back in the 13th century.  So, maybe they were high in more than one sense of the word...and considering the living conditions back then, it was probably a good thing too.  In any case, high or not, some of those heads, well, they're pretty ugly.  I bet the kids of those guys weren't too quick to point out which one was their dad.  And, what about that guy at the top...doesn't he remind you of someone?

All I know is that if I ever donate lots of money to help build a cathedral, the sculptor had better make me look like a top model! 

Moving we can see where all the church mice live:

And I'm thinking one of those drawers must be where our patron saint has hidden all those lost socks.

This one I just love. It's one of the images that's on the choir stalls. I wonder if they're trying to tell us where holy water really comes from.

Or maybe it was just a reminder to pee before the service began...just in case Mass dragged on a bit longer than usual.

And last, but not least, the Papamoscas.  The name means flyeater...from papar (to eat, swallow) and moscas (flies):

Okay, the guides do tell you about him, but I just couldn't leave him out.  If you visit the cathedral and you don't see this, well, then you must be blind...or you were looking at your feet the whole time.  When the clock strikes, this guy opens his mouth...supposedly to catch flies.

I love the legend behind this odd character, so I'm going to tell it to you.  I know, I know, I promised, no history, but this isn't really history, just some unfounded that's okay, right? Besides, the title of this post is "200 posts and a legend", and while I'm sure you were all thinking that the legend I was referring to is me, it's not.  But if you want to believe I'm a legend, go right ahead, I won't spoil your fun.

And now for the real legend:

It is said that Henry the III of Castile (aka Henry the Sufferer, don't ask me why because that would be actual history, and I don't do history) used to come to the cathedral to pray.  But one day he saw a beautiful girl who distracted him from his prayers.  When she left, he followed her until he saw where she lived.  The next day the same thing happened, and this went on for many days, since the king was too shy to talk to her.

But one day, she dropped her handkerchief and the king picked it up, silently giving his own handkerchief to her in exchange.  She gave him a smile and walked away, and as she left the cathedral the king heard a lamenting wail that he would never forget.  After that the girl never returned. The king waited for many months, but to no avail, so he finally went to her house, but it was empty.  He was told that no one had lived there for many years since it's occupants had died of the Plague.

(Now, I'm thinking the king might just have been experimenting with the properties of cannabis himself, and that might be the explanation for the whole thing.)

Sober or not, the king couldn't shake the whole thing off.  So, he ordered a clock with a figure to be made in girl's image, so as not to forget her, and he also said it must wail each hour, just as the girl had done when she disappeared.

Obviously, the king didn't choose the artist very well, either that or the girl wasn't as lovely as legend would have us believe, and the result is a rather grotesque devilish sort of character.  Actually, I'm wondering if that lovely girl might not have been a rather fetching young lad (and the king in reality fancied boys), since this definitely does not look like a girl in any way.  In any case, girl or boy, the artist must not have been very skillful because the Papamoscas is uuugly.  And it seems he didn't do such a hot job on the lamenting wail either, since according to the legend, the wail ended up being more of a pathetic croak, and eventually some bishop or other, sick of the annoying sound, ordered that it be silenced.

So, there you have it.  200 posts, a legend, and a slightly unusual tour of the Burgos cathedral.


  1. Very nice. But my post at least had a gratuitous two-frame video of Papamoscas' mouth opening. :-)

    That legend reeks of a story that's been told through about a thousand mouths and now has nothing to do with anything.

    Congrats on reaching 200. You'll be at 400 in no time at your present pace!

  2. Oh Erik, you're always one step ahead of me. Excellent post and video. I just loved that bit about it being the Joker from a deck of cards...people will believe anything.

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's no truth to that legend whatsoever, that's kind of why I like it, and since no one knows the actual story behind it, well, why not. And, just think, I've contributed to it by adding that bit about the king being stoned and fancying boys...wonder how that will evolve. ;)

  3. Felicitaciones por los 200 !!!
    pero exijo mi viaje a Hawai :)

  4. Hahaha! Now this is the sort of history I like! Love that top picture, too - I'd have stood there for some time gazing at that and wondering.

    The flycatcher? Well. What can I say? Definitely not a girl, not by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps it was the king who did the wailing?

  5. This was the best cathedral tour I've ever been on! Gotta love a guide who makes some things up as she goes along. Congrats on your 200th post.. it was a fine one. :)

  6. giozi: Gracias, y lo siento, pero no hay viaje y menos con las navidades por delante.

    Jay: Yeah, I'm seriously thinking they are trying to tell us something with that blocked up door. ;)

    Hilary: Glad you enjoyed it, I like making stuff up, it beats having to remember all the real stuff. :D

  7. Merry Christmas! Let the new year will bring a lot of money

  8. Beautiful post, great ))