Monday, April 30, 2012
How ancient this place is. Just inside the present city wall there used to live a hermit. This was many many years ago, when almost certainly there was no city at all, and maybe the hermit had settled in a desert place, or just outside the settlement, somewhere he could be alone. Or maybe there was a pagan temple there, maybe something about the place that marked it out as special. Anyway, dear soul, there he was, a special human being also, and after his death, or maybe her death, because stories get distorted, a little church was built to remember him by. Or her by. And then the muslims came, and they saw it was special place too, and built a mosque there. And all around it grew up palaces and places where important people lived. And then the Christians came, the great hero El Cid among them. And as they were riding into the city in triumph, they passed this mosque, just inside the city walls. Only they didn't go past it, because the Cid's famous horse, whose name I forget, knelt down in the street just outside the mosque door. Being a highly clever horse, as well as an exceptionally strong and brave one, it had noticed what no-one else had: that inside the mosque was a figure of Christ concealed behind a wall. And the spot where the dear horse knelt is marked by a white stone, and we have seen it, and the mosque became a church, and became known as the church of El Cristo de la Luz. And then a new apse was built over the old apse, and it was known as The Church of the Christ Of Light, even though it was actually dedicated to darkness and huge efforts were made to disguise the fact it had once been a mosque. Certainly the last time I was here it was in disguise, and I had no sense it was ever a mosque. Be cause that's how it was, the dictatorship: an immense effort to impose falsehood through force. But now it is called a mosque again, the mosque of the Christ of Light. An exquisite place: and dedicated, truly, to the light.
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