Zamora (EFE) still active, whose brothers were willing to give their lives to prevent the relics of the saint from returning to Toledo.
The festival of San Ildefonso, who was a great scholar of the seventh century, brings to light the history of one of the oldest and most unique brotherhoods in Europe, which has the keys to the fenced area where the remains of the patron rest, according to explained to Efe the chaplain of the brotherhood of cubicular knights and diocesan delegate of Heritage of Zamora, Miguel Ángel Hernández.
While in Toledo this Monday is a local holiday in Zamora, the knights and ladies of the “Real, Muy Antigua e Ilustre Cofradía de Caballeros Cubicularios de San Ildefonso y San Atilano” will commemorate the festivity together with the remains of the patron saint in the Zamora Romanesque church of San Pedro and San Ildefonso.
The skeletal remains and relics of the man who was Archbishop of Toledo between 657 and 667 traveled to Zamora at the time of the Muslim invasion, according to tradition to avoid its desecration, but it could also be due to the repopulation of the Castilian-Leonese city with Toledo Mozarabs, Miguel Ángel Hernández has pointed out.
The remains were lost track of for centuries until in 1260, during a renovation of the church where they are currently kept, they were discovered according to the writer Fray Juan Gil de Zamora.
Petition to the King and the Pope
“From there comes Toledo’s claim to return the remains to his diocese”, for which he appealed on several occasions to the Spanish monarchy and even to the Pope to make the return effective, explained the person in charge of Heritage of the Bishopric of Zamora.
In response, the brotherhood of cubicular knights was founded in Zamora to defend the remains of what is considered one of the fathers of the church, worship them and guard them until death if necessary to prevent them from leaving that city.
“To enter the brotherhood they had to take an oath in which they committed themselves to their own lives so that the remains of San Ildefonso would be venerated and preserved in the city of Zamora,” Hernández recalled.
There is no written documentation of the origin of the brotherhood, although the possibility that it was created at the end of the 13th or beginning of the 14th century is being considered, and a document corroborates that in the year 1419 it was already consolidated when it was then run next to the Zamora church of San Pedro and San Ildefonso a hospital for the poor.
Blood cleansing and proofs of nobility
In order to belong to it, it was necessary to be a nobleman or a knight and that noble origin almost led to its extinction since in the 17th and 18th centuries it was increasingly common to demand records of purity of blood and proof of nobility.
In 1815 the situation was critical and only three brothers remained, although the last of them, Viscount of Garci-Grande, and his descendants were in charge of guarding the key to the temple gate where the remains of San Ildefonso are kept. for nearly a century until the brotherhood was refounded in 1967.
In its new stage it is a mixed confraternity, of “gentlemen and ladies”, and it has introduced an important nuance: its members are now allowed to have “nobility of spirit” if they do not have it by blood.
out of sheer pride
Now, does Toledo continue to ask for the return of the remains of the saint, the end for which the brotherhood was created?
«Toledo has historically claimed those 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) a relic was delivered to it, some remains bones, and I believe that right now there is no strong claim, it is as assumed that they are here, ”the counselor of the Zamoran brotherhood has settled. EFE