Solomonic bishops and processional communities

That’s a subject line I simply can’t surpass for pretension, but actually, having just mentioned Catalan parish boundary disputes, I thought I’d tell you a story. I mean, enough theory and whingeing, we all like stories, right? that’s what we’re doing this for. So, right then.

The church of Sant Andreu de Baltarga, built in the 980s

Basically, there is a village called Baltarga which in 890 had a church that was owned by Archpriest Fredarius, of the chapter of Urgell. (Here is the one they prepared later.) Just across the way is a village called Say, which is exciting because it’s Saione in Latin, and there was a judicial official called a saió so we get to wonder if such a man founded the place. Whether he did or not, though, by 890 it belonged to the monastery of Sant Miquel de Cuixà, and they had just put a church in there. The villagers had up till then always come to church at Baltarga, but they now had a better church at Say, and they demanded that the local priest (whose name was Orderic) move his operation there. The villagers of Baltarga didn’t want to trek over to Say and abandon their beloved church, so they kicked up a fuss, and by the late autumn Bishop Ingobert of Urgell had had to come out and settle the dispute.1 Ingobert must have fancied himself a Solomon, as the poor old priest finished up having to do a six-month stint in each village, with a procession from one to the other on the Feast of St John the Baptist and back again at Christmas, and Ingobert collected pledges from all the villagers totalling 50 pounds of good gold so that they’d stick to it.

As far as I know this procession does not still happen, but I bet it was a big deal while it lasted. Form your community round that! :-)


1. C. Baraut (ed.), “Les actes de consagracions d’esglesies del bisbat d’Urgell (segles IX-XII)” in Urgellia: anuari d’estudis històrics dels antics comtats de Cerdanya, Urgell i Pallars, d’Andorra i la Vall d’Aran Vol. 1 (Montserrat 1978), pp. 11-182, doc. 8.

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2 responses to “Solomonic bishops and processional communities

  1. that, good sir, is a most excellent story. what a nice way to start the morning :)

  2. Agreed. This is interesting stuff. So keep it up! BTW, I came across your blog via Nokes’ blog roll.

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