restricted access 2 Controversy and Propaganda
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c h a p t e r t w o Controversy and Propaganda In 1588, the year of the strange discoveries in the Torre Turpiana, Granada was still a multicultural, multiethnic city. Although the majority of the city’s Morisco inhabitants had disappeared into exile, the streets and structures of the urban landscape still recalled their presence. The cathedral rising on the plain at the foot of the two hills made manifest the city’s new commitment to Christianity, but one had only to turn one’s eyes upward to the Alhambra or to the Albaicín to recall the absent Moriscos and the heritage of nearly eight centuries of a culturally vibrant and politically powerful Iberian Islam. The plomos reflected Granada’s tense and precarious diversity, blending the cultural traditions of the Morisco and immigrant Christian populations into a bold new amalgam. Through the documents and relics from the Torre Turpiana and the Sacromonte, the forgers, probably members of Granada’s endangered Morisco minority, bolstered their community ’s increasingly perilous status by reaªrming traditional Morisco culture while recasting it into a Christian mold. The plomos’ Morisco roots and historical anachronisms quickly won them denunciation by some of Spain’s leading scholars and critics, and the forgers’ e¤orts did not succeed in preventing the expulsion of nearly all of Spain’s Morisco population between 1609 and 1614. As the city continued its metamorphosis into a Christian preserve, Granadinos’ enthusiastic response to the finds, together with the promotional activities of devotees like Archbishop Pedro de Castro, helped sustain the plomos’ transformation into the foundational remains of Christian Granada. The Plomos in Morisco Culture Between 1595 and 1599, between nineteen and twenty-two lead books were recovered from the hillside.1 Together, these remarkable documents appeared to substantiate the medieval legend of St. Cecilio and his six companions, the Seven Apostles of Spain, and cemented the relationship between the saint and the city of Granada. According to the Mozarabic calendars, martyrologies, and liturgies that retold the story, the Seven Apostles—Torcuato, Segundo, Indalecio, Eufrasio, Hiscio, Tesifón, and Cecilio—came to the Iberian Peninsula to continue the work of evangelization begun by St. James. Ordained as bishops in Rome by SS. Peter and Paul, the Seven arrived in Acci (Guadix), a city some forty miles to the east of Granada, and spread out to pursue their missionary labors in major Andalusian towns. According to the medieval texts, St. Cecilio’s destination was Granada’s Roman predecessor, a town called Eliberri, Iliberri, Iliberia, or Iliberis (or other variations).2 The Arabic texts discovered on the Sacromonte fleshed out this barebones vita with surprising new details. One of the books, the Book of the Famous Acts of Our Lord Jesus and of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, revealed SS. Tesifón and Cecilio to be Aben Athar and Aben Alradi, twin sons of Saleh, an Arab of noble lineage. Carried from the Arabian Peninsula to Galilee by their father, the boys— born blind and deaf-mute, respectively—were miraculously healed of their in- firmities by Jesus himself, who then assigned them to the care of St. James. According to another of the texts, On the Famous Deeds of the Apostle St. James and on His Miracles, the brothers traveled with St. James to Spain and Granada, where Cecilio later became the city’s first bishop and martyr.3 Even more surprising than these new hagiographic facts were the other contents of the lead books, which ranged from theological treatises and biographies to prayers and religious instruction by the Virgin Mary and SS. Peter and James, as transcribed by SS. Cecilio and Tesifón. In one text, Book of the Enigmas and Mysteries That the Virgin St. Mary Saw, by the Grace of God, on the Night of Her Colloquy , an Arabic-speaking Virgin Mary tells the assembled apostles how, seated on a mare and accompanied by the angel Gabriel, she flew by night to Heaven, where she witnessed the marvels of Paradise. Continuing her journey, she passed through Hell and Purgatory and entered into the presence of Jesus, who promised to send her the book Certainty of the Gospel.4 According to another of the lead books, History of the Certainty of the Holy Gospel, Gabriel presented the Virgin with the book, “written by the hand of power, with resplendent light, on tablets of precious stone,” together with a copy on lead tablets, sealed with the seal of c o n...


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Subject Headings

  • Granada (Spain) -- Church history.
  • Granada (Spain) -- Church history -- Sources.
  • Group identity -- Spain -- Granada.
  • Granada (Spain) -- History.
  • Granada (Spain) -- History -- Sources.
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