Trasmoz, a name that etymologically comes from ‘trasmontes’, is a very small village of Zaragoza with only 90 inhabitants. It must be reached by secondary roads and is guarded by a castle movie, located at its peak. To this day, it is still the only village in all of Spain that has been officially declared cursed by the Catholic Church and has been the object of an excommunication. This doubtful ‘honor’ has made it the center of numerous mystical and religious legends about covens, necromancy and other satanic rites. Logically, they have never been proven, but they have endured in the popular imagination until today.
To understand what happened in Trasmoz we have to travel back in time to the Middle Ages, specifically to the year 1255. At that time, wood was elementary for any family to lead a dignified life. It was used for everything: to heat the houses, to make tools or to build basic furniture. All the neighbors got it from the same place: Monte de la Mata.
The locals came into conflict with the abbot of the Monastery of Veruela over the supply of wood. There was a lot of tension between both parties. It must be taken into account that the power of an abbot in those times was immense. Well, he wanted to collect all the taxes from the town of Trasmoz, which did not belong to the Church. This is the origin of the iniquity. One day, fed up with the situation and claiming his authority, the ecclesiastic was emboldened and began the process to officially excommunicate the town, leaving it outside the Catholic Church. Trasmoz was expelled from the kingdom of heaven for all eternity, according to the Church.
Three centuries later, the abbot of the monastery and the lord of Trasmoz, Pedro Manuel Ximénez de Urrea, were once again entangled in a quarrel. Everything became entangled. On this occasion it was not over firewood but over water, which, diverted by the clergyman, did not reach the families of the town for their water supply. The dispute reached such a point that the Cortes of Aragon interceded between the two parties, giving reason to the lord of Trasmoz and, therefore, to the whole town.
The abbot, enraged, in the early hours of a dark and sinister night, covered with a black veil the cross that was on the altar of the church and began to read aloud Psalm 108 of the Holy Bible: ¡Who will lead me to the fortified city? And did you not go out, O God, with our armies? Give us help against the adversary, for vain is the help of man’.
Each verse, according to the legend, was accompanied by a bell, a sign that the whole village was aware of the evil spell. In this way, the lord of Trasmoz was cursed again with all his descendants and the whole town, until the present day. Although this case has reached the ears of the Vatican, no Pope to date, not even Francis, has lifted the punishment on the village of Trasmoz.
Currently the people of the village consider themselves as ‘cursed-blessed’, taking with some irony and humor the title of ‘the only excommunicated village in Spain’. In fact, from a touristic point of view, the title is welcome, as the Monastery of Trasmoz receives a significant number of visitors every year. Not only because it is a site on which gravitate all the legends of the town and its surroundings, many of which have nothing to do with religion, but also because Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer was a refugee nearby.
The poet recovered in the surroundings from a severe tuberculosis for more than a year. It was said that the air in the area was good for his battered lungs. He used to walk to Trasmoz to write and be inspired. So much so that he dedicated to Trasmoz and its castle up to three letters of his book Desde mi celda (From my cell). There is a beautiful monument to the romantic poet, the work of Luigi Maráez, which can still be visited today. Bécquer has been and is very important in the mythology and history of Trasmoz. As a curious fact, it is worth mentioning that a chapter of the famous television series El Ministerio del Tiempo, dealt with the history of Trasmoz and Bécquer, adding a lot of fiction. The chapter is called Tiempo de Hechizo (time of spell).
The big question today remains the same: how long will the excommunication of Trasmoz last? Although the town’s relations with the Church are cordial and normal, that is, Catholic events continue to be held, the fact is that the excommunication has not been revoked, nor has it been officially pardoned, or anything similar. Many ask if it is time to address and close this issue, others prefer that the town maintains its enigmatic and cursed air, because after all it has been a reason to visit for many tourists and curious.
The best time to visit Trasmoz is precisely at the end of October or beginning of November. Then the festival of the Light of the Souls is celebrated, which honors the dead and proceeds to the collection of pumpkins with their respective decoration workshops. The day usually culminates with the procession of the souls, which draws a path from the village church to the cemetery. It is all very spooky and eerie… and really fascinating.
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