Legends, stories and traditions tell us facts, transmitted from generation to generation, that haven’t been forgotten over the years. Many times there is a mixture of reality and fiction, but they make up for a good part of the what happened.
The Martyrdom of the Children saints, Justo y Pastor, Patrons of the City.
At the start of the 4th century, the emperor of Rome, Dioclecian, prohibited Christianity, and his governor in Hispania, Daciano, showed himself willing to carry out this prohibition. In the old Hispano-roman city Complutum, two small children, 7 and 9 years old, Justo and Pastor, sons of a man named Vidal, martyr in Italia, showed that they were willing to tell the governor that they weren’t going to give up Christianity. They went to Daciano’s palace, they told the soldiers on guard at the entrance, to the captains and to the governor himself. They scolded the children, whipped them and incarcerated them. But the children were still so sure that they wanted to continue being Christians that, in the end, the children were taken far away, outside of the city and in the middle of a field their heads were placed against white rocks. Their head were severed off. It was August 6th, 306. The town rioted in protest. But the legend had already been born: The Children Saints, Santos Niños, Justo and Pastor, were buried and no one knew the place where the martyr took place. A century later, a bishop Saint named Arturio received the revelation about the place of the old story. He went to Complutum, searched for the Laudable field, found the rock against which the children were decapitated and, with it, the remains of the children saints. So, he made that place a “cella martyris”, seed of the future Temple of San Justo, and of the current Cathedral in Alcalá. Precisely in the Cathedral, in the nave’s crypt, the rock is conserved and the remains of the martyrs are kept in a silver urn, as a symbol of brave young Hispanic men.
1,700 years have passed since those events happened, during which time the history and the tradition have come together in an insoluble way. The 1,700th anniversary that the city of Alcalá celebrated was made a year that commemorates the martyrdom of Justo and Pastor and the creation of the Complutense Diocese 1600 years ago.
Photo: Crypt in the Santos Niños Cathedral honoring Justo and Pastor
The Cave of the Giants
On the hill of Vera Cruz, one of the ones that lies on the west side of Alcalá, the entrance into a deep, dark cave can be seen which is said to go to Gualadalara on one side y on the other goes to Castillo de Santorcaz. The people always said that gigantic beings lived there. The legend expanded when it was said that once, a sow hid inside because she was hurt and stabbed by the Moors that lived inside the cave, and that it moaned so loudly that people outside heard and came to the conclusion that underground den, in addition to giants and Moors, there were demons inside. A group of fantastical beings living in the dark undergrounds of Alcalá.
The Virgin of “El Val”.
The virgin of el Val, patron saint of the city, perpetual mayoress and Doctor by the University of Alcalá. Her origins go back to the fall of 1184, when a farmer that lived near the Henares river fell into the river and felt himself being carried away by the water and thought he was going to die. In a trance, he felt hand, that of the Virgin with her son, pulled him out of the water and saved him. He wanted to know where that lady was but he couldn’t find her. Days later, while plowing his farm, he had trouble walking the oxen and the plow. He tried to find what the problem was, and y found a niche in the ground with the image of the Virgin smiling at him. He took it to his masters’ home, who put it in their bedroom, but the next day it wasn’t there. They looked everywhere and finally, they found it at the top of a tree, looking down at them. The message was clear: the mother of God, who had appeared in the water, on land and in the air, wanted to be there, next to the river, in the valley of Henares, and thus a small chapel dedicated to the Val. So, centuries and centuries have passed and the Alcalá natives have always had this image as their patron saint and lady. Her chapel situated on the bank of the Henares river is a popular spot for pilgrimages and devotion.
The Prophesy of the Well
They say that Saint Vincent Ferrer, tireless preacher, visited Alcalá in 1412. While passing through the city, he said something: 'Complutum puteus iniquitatum', which means: “Alcalá will be thrown into a bottomless pit”, because he wasn’t well received by the people, by the archbishop of Toledo, Pedro de Luna. And much later, in the middle of the 15th century, there was a period of rain in Alcalá that caused the whole city to flood. A monk from the Santá María de Jesús, the future San Diego of Alcalá, who with heavenly inspiration and an iron sward hit the center of the patio, making a big hole and all of the water drained out of the city. This hole was then seen as a miracle and complementary to the prophesy. Since then Alcalá has had many floods and sometimes the water drained out through the hole in the convent and other times was dried up by the sun.