The tragic lovers of Bausen: the origin of Spain’s smallest graveyard

There is a tragic love story that has been haunting the Aran Valley, a unique land in the Pyrenees, for centuries now. Said story had the most curious outcome: the construction of what probably is Spain’s smallest graveyard, which only keeps one person’s remains. The modest tombstone lies under the shadow of an ancient acacia tree, surrounded by a two-metres high stone wall. This graveyard belongs to Teresa, and this is her story.

A forbidden love story in Bausen

A solitary tombstone in an empty graveyard, with flowers and covered in snow

Teresa’s graveyard. | Wikimedia

The tragedy we’re going to recount here took place in Bausen, a small village in the Aran Valley of Lleida, near the French border. The main characters here are a young couple, Teresa and Francisco, who fell in love in the early twentieth-century rural Catalonia. There was just a tiny inconvenience: they were cousins. Although it’s not clear how closely related they were, for them to be able to marry and not live in sin, it would mean to pay a fee to the church. This fee, also called the consanguinity dispensation, cost about 25 pesetas (Spain’s currency at the time).

It’s uncertain whether they refused to pay the fee or they simply couldn’t afford it —in any case, we know they didn’t. All the same, they decided to live together and brought two kids into the world. According to religious morals, their lifestyle was sinful. However, that’s not the tragic part of the story: tragedy arrived years later.

At the age of 33, Teresa died of a pneumonia. The priest of the village, who was known to be a considerably stiff man, stood against their sinful life and refused to let her be buried in sacred soil. Eventually, this discrepancy would result in a peculiar turn of events.

Spain’s smallest graveyard

A small stone graveyard seen from the outside

Spain’s smallest graveyard. | Wikimedia

Overnight, the village of Bausen, led by Teresa’s loving husband, improvised a separate graveyard so that her remains could rest in peace. This is how this place came into existence, thanks to the efforts of Bausen’s inhabitants, who didn’t want Teresa’s body to end up lost and forgotten in nameless ground. Her tombstone doesn’t have any ornaments or religious symbols, but it does wield two inscriptions: “In remembrance of my beloved Teresa, who passed away the 10th May 1916 at the age of 33” and “To our dear mother”.

This peculiar story left as a trace the smallest graveyard in Spain, and it began to be regarded as an attractive spot to visit when tourism arrived at the Aran Valley. Teresa and Francisco began to be known as “the lovers of Bausen”, and this secluded burial ground is now referred to as Teresa’s graveyard. A suitable name, since it belongs to her and only her.   

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