EL CRISTO DE LA VEGA
A Good Judge, a Better Witness
Lucas Sánchez and Julia Serrano
There were two lovers in Toledo: Diego Martínez and Inés de Vargas. They had had sex before marriage. Ines´s father did know it, so he wanted them to get married. He observed that he must leave for Flanders, but as soon as he returned, within a month, he would married her.
Ines, not very sure of the intentions of Diego, asked him if he could swear it, in front of the image of the Christ of la Vega. Diego resisted but finally in a loud voice and touching the feet of the Christ, he swears that when he returns from the war, he will marry her.
«A day passed and another day, a month and another month and a past year there was, but Diego did not return».
Ines broken from so much crying, without hope, was waiting in vain for her lover’s return. Every day she prayed to the Christ, asking for Diego’s return, because nobody else but he could understand her and she only found support and comfort in him.
Two years passed and the wars in Flanders ended; but Diego did not return. However, Ines, despaired, always waited with faith and patience for the return of her beloved to return the honour he had taken with him. Every day she went to a viewpoint, waiting to see Diego appearing by the horizon.
One of those days, after three years had passed, she saw in the distance a troop of men who were coming near the Cambron’s gate.
Her heart was nervous because she saw the group approached the door. As she arrived, the group of riders passed through. Her heart skipped a beat when she recognized Diego, because he was the knight who, accompanied by seven spearmen and ten pawns, led the group. She gave a shout, calling him; but Diego rejected her, pretending not to know her, and while she fell unconscious, he, spurred his horse and lost himself in the narrow, dark streets of Toledo.
What had made Diego change? Possibly it was his ascending, because of simple soldier, was promoted to captain and to his return the king appointed knight to him and it took to his service. Pride had transformed him and made him forget his oath of love, denying everywhere that he promised to marry that woman.
Ines did not stop coming to Diego, sometimes with entreaties, sometimes with threats and many more with tears; but the heart of the young captain was a hard stone and continually rejected it.
In his desperation, he only saw a way out of the situation in which he found himself,’ although it could be a danger, since it was to give public light to his conflict and dishonour; but in reality, the murmuring in the city did not stop and everybody talked about his case. Taking the decision, she went to the Governor of Toledo, who at the time was Pedro Ruiz de Alarcón, and asked for justice. After listening to her complaints, the old dignitary asked for some witnesses to corroborate her claim, but she had no one.
Don Pedro brought Diego Martínez to his court and when asked, he denied having married Ines. There were no witnesses and nothing the governor could do. It was the word of one against that of the other.
At the moment when Diego was going to leave with a haughty gesture, satisfied after Don Pedro gave him permission to do so, Inés asked to be stopped, because he remembered having a witness. When the young woman said who that witness was Christ, everyone was paralyzed with amazement. The silence became deep in the court and, after a moment of expectation and a brief consultation of Don Pedro with the judges who accompanied him in the administration of justice, he decided to go to the Christ of la Vega to ask for his statement.
When the sun fell they all approached the meadows where the hermitage is located. A confused troop of people accompanied the procession, for the news of the event had spread like wildfire through the city. In front were Don Pedro Ruiz de Alarcón, Don Ivan de Vargas, his daughter Inés, the scribes, the guards, monks, nobleman and the common people.
All entered the cloister; four candles and a lamp were lit before the Christ and they kneeled themselves on their knees to pray in a low voice. Then a notary came forward to the image and having the two young people on both sides, Ines and Diego, aloud, demanded Jesus Christ as a witness:
«Do you know that one day, to your divine plants, he swore to Inés to marry her?»
After a few moments of expectation and silence, the Christ lowered his right hand, unclasped it from the wood and put it on the judicial decree, opened his lips and exclaimed: “Yes, he swore it”. After that, Ines and Diego left their lives and they enter in monasteries, to take a religious life.