Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Sacred Fowl (aka Church's Chicken)

According to the legend, in the 12th century, a young man from Germany was travelling to Compostello with his parents to venerate the relics of St. James the Apostle. Along the way they stopped an an inn at the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada to eat and to spend the night, During their brief soujourn one of the maidservants took a fancy to the young man and made an amorous advance at him. Being the pious lad that he was, he rebuffed the advance, much to the dismay of the young lady.
Feeling rejected and desirous of revenge, she hid one of her master's silver cups in his knapsack while he slept. Upon his waking, the silver goblet was discovered and the young man was condemned to be hung. Weeping bitterly, his parents continued on to Compostello to beg St. James to save their son's life. While there, St. James appeared to them and told them to return to Santo Domingo because their son was still alive. They returned to find their son alive, but still hanging from the gibbet. It appears that St. James had been holding him up by the feet so that he would not die. Filled with hope, they went to the magistrate's home to ask him to take their son down from the gibbet because he was still alive after such a long time.
The magistrate laughed incredulously saying that he would believe that the young man was alive and would take him down fromt he gibbet when the cock and chicken cooking for his dinner would begin to crow. At that, the nicely browned fowls jumped out of the oven, onto his table and began to sing! Astounded, the magistrate ordered the young man to be removed, and upon realizing the rascality of the lustful maidservant had her hung in his place.

In the fifteenth century a chapel was constructed at the location of the gibbet where a cock and a chicken, descendents of the miraculous fowl were kept, and pilgrims were allowed to come and pick feathers from the birds. In present times, during the three weeks of pilgrimage leading up the the feast of St. James, a cock and chicken are placed in a cage called the gallinero in the transept of the church for the edification of the pilgrims.


Post a Comment

<< Home