Toledo, Jan 22 (EFE).- Toledo and Zamora will once again celebrate this Monday the festivity of their patron saint, San Ildefonso, a saint that links both cities and which they now share amicably, although for centuries they maintained a tense dispute over the custody of his relics, after his appearance in 1260 in the Zamora church of San Pedro.

According to tradition, the remains of Saint Ildefonso, who was the twenty-eighth bishop of Toledo (consecrated in 658) were moved north to preserve them from the Muslim invasion (as was done with other bodies of saints such as Saint Leocadia or San Julián de Toledo), explains to Efe the canon deputy archivist of the cathedral of Toledo, Francisco María Fernández.

After his death in 667, the body of the saint was buried in the Toledo basilica of Santa Leocadia, from where he was transferred to northern lands on unspecified dates (since there are two versions of the time in which the transfer took place), just as there is no official version or documents that explain why he was taken to Zamora, only hypotheses.

The fact is that for centuries it was unknown where his remains had been buried, until in 1260 they were found in the church of San Pedro de Zamora (previously called Santa Leocadia), in an extension of the temple, and after, according to the According to tradition, Saint Ildefonso himself appeared to a shepherd in the Montes de Toledo to tell him where his relics were and for the Virgin to tell another shepherd in Zamora.

Toledo claims the relics

According to Fernández, from that moment on in Zamora there was much veneration for the saint, whose body was reburied under an altar in the church of San Pedro and San Ildefonso (popularly known as the Church of San Ildefonso), due to fears that his relics were claimed from Toledo.

Later, in 1496, the then Bishop of Zamora, Diego Menéndez de Valdés, ordered the reform of the temple, and in the development of the reform, the relics of San Ildefonso were transferred to the upper chapel that was built so that they could be venerated together with the relics of San Atilano, protected by a gate.

Although already in the fifteenth century the remains began to be claimed from Toledo, with the argument that in this city the Virgin imposed the chasuble on Saint Ildefonso, which constituted one of the most important arguments used to defend that the cathedral Toledo was declared ‘Primada de las Españas’ by the Holy See, before others that aspired to be such as those of Tarragona, Santiago de Compostela or Braga.

But despite the requests, the Zamoranos firmly maintained their refusal to deliver the remains of the saint, although successive archbishops of Toledo and even the emperors Carlos I (who went to Zamora to venerate the relics together with Cardinal Tavera) repeatedly requested it. ) and Felipe II, points out the assistant archivist of the cathedral of Toledo.

Intervention of the Holy See

An example of the intensity of the dispute is that, in 1594, Pope Clement VIII, at the request of Cardinal Quiroga, issued a bull in which he ordered the people of Zamora to deliver the holy body to the people sent by the cathedral chapter. of Toledo “under penalty of major excommunication and interdiction with suspension of the government, administration of the bishopric and that it be done without delay and without appeal or recourse from anyone.”

But the Zamoranos argued that the bull never reached them, and that is why they could not meet the request, says Fernández, who adds that there were other confirmations of that bull later by Pope Paul V.

The canon deputy archivist of the cathedral of Toledo, Francisco María Fernández. EFE / Ismael Herrero

The confrontation had one of its high points when, according to tradition, in the 16th century a Toledo cleric was sent to Zamora to steal a relic of Saint Ildefonso, but he went to the wrong tomb and brought a piece of the skull of Saint Atilano to Toledo. In fact, in the primate cathedral there is a relic of this saint, which in turn was claimed by the Zamoranos at some point.

Finally, Toledo’s wishes to have a relic of their patron came true thanks to the fact that in 1674 the priest Francisco de Sartaguda, a native of Estella (Navarra), who was a priest, salaried singer and number chaplain of the cathedral of Zamora, He made a reliquary that contained part of the arm of Saint Ildefonso and brought it to Toledo, without the Zamoranos noticing.

Sartaguda could not return to Zamora and was appointed cantor of the cathedral of Toledo, which preserves the relic in another reliquary made for this purpose, which is in the sacristy of the primate temple.

A brotherhood to defend the relics

In response to Toledo’s claims, the Brotherhood of Cubicular Knights of San Ildefonso and San Atilano was founded in Zamora, with the task of defending the remains of what is considered one of the fathers of the church, worshiping them and guarding them until death. , if necessary, to prevent them from leaving the city, their current counselor and diocesan delegate for Heritage of Zamora, Miguel Ángel Hernández, explains to Efe.

It is one of the oldest and most unique brotherhoods in Europe, which currently has the keys to the fenced area where the relics of San Ildefonso are, and whose members had to take an oath in which they committed themselves to their own lives so that The remains of the saint will be venerated and preserved in the city of Zamora.

There is no written documentation of its origin, Hernández points out, although the possibility that it was created at the end of the 13th century or the beginning of the 14th is considered, while a document corroborates that in 1419 it was already consolidated when it ran a hospital for the poor, located next to the church of San Pedro and San Ildefonso.

The showdown comes to an end

The long confrontation ended last century, when in 1960 the seventh centenary of the discovery (invention) of the body of San Ildefonso was celebrated in Zamora, in which the titular bishop of the Zamora diocese Eduardo Martínez, and the then archbishop of Toledo participated. Enrique Pla y Deniel, who presided over a mass in the cathedral of Zamora, as did in 1990 the also primate Marcelo González in the church where the relics of the saint are.

Another milestone in the normalization of relations took place in 2007, when the Brotherhood of Cubicular Knights of San Ildefonso and San Atilano brought the chest in which they are kept to Toledo, so that they could be venerated in the cathedral on the occasion of the fourteenth centenary of the Birth of San Ildefonso.

According to Francisco María Fernández, in 1960 Pla y Deniel y Martínez “staged a kind of reconciliation”, so that from that moment the people of Toledo “no longer ask for anything” and the people of Zamora have delivered, when requested, some relic to the cathedral of Toledo.

For his part, Hernández comments: «Toledo has historically claimed these remains for many centuries, nothing had ever been delivered to it, almost out of pure pride, until when the restoration of the church of San Pedro and San Ildefonso was completed (year 1990) He gave him a relic, some skeletal remains, and I think that right now there is no strong claim, it is as assumed that they are here ». EFE

Rafael Riesco

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