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Jaén's Holy Face


Jaén’s Holy Face is a precious relic decorated with gemstones and with a religious picture much venerated in Jaén. According to the ancient tradition, it is supposedly one of the parts of the canvas used by Saint Marcela, the popular Veronica, to wipe Christ’s face when he was tired and dejected after carrying the Cross in his Ascent to Calvary. The Holy Face is conserved in a braided silver urn in the Main Chapel of Jaén’s Cathedral. 

According to the Apocryphal Gospels, when Jesus of Galilea was walking towards Mount Calvary, a woman approached him in order to wipe the sweat off his face. The shape of Christ’s face remained in the shroud used by the woman. The shroud was folded and for this reason three shapes of his face were printed on it. One of them is locked with seven keys in the Saint Chapel of Jaén’s Cathedral. Getting into the magical world of legends, we find a very old one that explains how the Holy Face relic travelled from Rome to Jaén.
It is said that a Bishop was having dinner when he heard a great noise, loud laughters and jokey comments. The noise was made by the crazy, little devils that he held locked in a glass vase. The vase was narrow-mouthed and had a broad-base that we can call “Redoma”. It was very difficult for the Bishop to finish his dinner with so much noise. Because the devils were laughing and flapping their wings the whole time. He was able to approach the vase without being seen. He hid and listened carefully to what they said in order to discover the reason for this revelry. The little devils were laughing and sharing the great sins of the Holiness Pope. They said that a great party would be celebrated in the depths of hell to commemorate the Pope’s sins. They were anxiously awaiting the Pope’s descent into the flames of hell. The Bishop was very surprised when he heard this. 
Worried about the horrible fate of the Pope, the Bishop began to wonder how he could warn the Pope before he died. How could he get to the Eternal City? The Vatican was very far and it could take days to get there. It was possible that the Pope would die before the Bishop´s arrival. Then, a great idea came to Bishop’s mind. Maybe he could persuade one of the devils to fly him to Rome. If so, he could arrive on time to prevent the Pope’s tragic fate and could save his soul. The devils were surprised by the Bishop’s request. One of the devils quickly agreed to fly him to Rome, but wanted to know what he would get in return for doing the Bishop this huge favour. The devil told him his own request. He would take the Bishop to Rome, only if he agreed to give him the leftovers from his dinner every night. The Bishop agreed and accepted and the devil’s eyes shined with happiness. Then, the devil was liberated from his narrow prison and the Bishop climbed on to his back. 
They arrived to the Pope’s palace quickly, where the Bishop found the Pope. The Pope realised that the sum of his sins became an infernal judgment. The Bishop tried to purify the room with some blessings and by tossing holy water throughout the palace. Cries and laments were heard in the palace and were accompanied by an intense sulphur odour. The Pope was so grateful that he gave the Bishop a gift, the Holy Face. The Bishop and the devil, with the Holy Face relic in his arms, returned to Jaén, where the relic remains to this day.The little devil was so happy while dreaming about his dinner. Nevertheless, according to the legend, the Bishop decided that he would have only a single dish for dinner, instead of the many dishes he had in the past.
From then to his death, every night the Bishop enjoyed a delicious bowl of nuts, giving the anxious and hungry devil only the nuts shells. 
(Source: Iuventa Cultural Association)