restricted access Epilogue
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Epilogue Every society produces the particular kind of imposture that suits it best. —Leonardo Sciascia The plomos finally reached the Vatican in June 1643. There, a team of six interpreters that included the famous Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher (1602– 80) undertook a definitive translation, a task that was not completed until 1665.1 The city of Granada, the Abbey of Sacromonte, and, to a lesser degree, the Spanish Crown, lobbied persistently for a favorable judgment, but their e¤orts were in vain. The voices of criticism that had dogged the discoveries since 1588 grew increasingly shrill, and it became widely accepted—outside Granada, at least—that the Torre Turpiana parchment and the lead books were indeed forgeries. On March 6, 1682, almost forty years after their arrival in Rome and nearly a century after the first discoveries in the Torre Turpiana, Pope Innocent XI formally condemned the plomos as “mere human fictions, fabricated for the ruin of the Catholic faith,” heretical texts that smelled suspiciously of Islam.2 Only the relics from the Torre Turpiana and the Sacromonte—the charred remains of the Sacromonte saints, the bone of St. Stephen, and the handkerchief of the Virgin, all legitimately authorized by Archbishop Castro in 1600—escaped the papal sentence. The Abbey of the Sacromonte, the city of Granada, and the Crown all lodged protests and appeals, but to no avail.3 After the publication of the brief in Rome on September 28, the papal nuncio and the Inquisition distributed it to cities across Spain. The sentence was announced in Granada’s cathedral on November 24.4 There are no descriptions of how Granadinos reacted to the unhappy news that day, but the blow cannot have been wholly unexpected, since news of the condemnation had reached Granada several months before the publication of the brief. The canons of the Abbey of the Sacromonte agitated to have the case reopened, and in June 1682 the university, the cathedral chapter, the archbishop, the city council, and most of Granada’s male religious houses petitioned King Charles II to intercede with the Vatican.5 After the condemnation, both the king and the queen mother sent letters to Rome, but the papal response was emphatically negative.6 The plomos’ supporters did not give up easily. Led by the canons of the Sacromonte, apologists continued to write in defense of their precious texts.7 The postcondemnation polemic began in 1706 with Vindicias Cathólicas Granatenses, a lengthy treatise published in France and attributed to Diego de la Serna Cantoral , a prosecutor in the Chancery of Granada.8 When possible, supporters at the abbey recruited erudite defenders from outside their own ranks, like the Jesuit Diego de Quadros (1677–1746), a professor of Holy Scripture and Hebrew in the Imperial College of Madrid who examined the a¤air in 1734.9 Most eighteenthcentury writers on the plomos, however, were sons of Granada and canons in the Collegiate Church of the Sacromonte. While Sacromonte canon Vicente Pastor de los Cobos’s (1686–1759) Guerras católicas granatenses (1735) never reached the press, Diego Nicolás Heredia Barnuevo (1700–1760) published his semihagiographic biography of Pedro de Castro in 1741.10 Luis Francisco de Viana y Bustos (d. 1762), abbot of the Sacromonte and a member of the Royal Academy of History, wrote several works in defense of the plomos and Granada’s mythic past, including Disertación eclesiastica crítico-histórica (Pamplona, 1752) and, with canon José Juan de Laboraria (d. 1765), the unpublished manuscript Historia auth éntica del hecho de los dos descubrimientos de Torre Turpiana y Monte Santo de Granada (1759).11 Abbot Viana’s defense of the plomos helped set the stage for a new series of discoveries unearthed in Granada in the 1750s. Between 1754 and 1763, Juan de Flores y Oddouz (d. 1789), a prebendary in the cathedral, undertook excavations in the Alcazaba, the oldest quarter of the Albaicín. With the aid of his accomplices— Cristóbal de Medina Conde (1726–98; a.k.a. Cristóbal Conde y Herrera), a canon in the cathedral of Málaga; Juan Velázquez de Echeverría (1729–1808), a member of the Congregation of Clerks Regular Minor; Antonio Fernández de la Cruz, abbot of the Collegiate Church of San Salvador; and others—Flores “discovered” new texts etched on lead tablets and scraps of marble in a strange script similar to that of the funerary plaques found on the Sacromonte. The finds included...


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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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