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The Christ that dodged a cannonball

The Christ that dodged a cannonball 

If you visit the amazing Cathedral of Barcelona, built in the heart of the Old City, you may notice a beautiful black wooden sculpture of a crucified Christ in the first chapel on your right, called the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, just above the Tomb of Saint Olegarius. This ancient object dates back to the 16th Century and it is called the Holy Christ of Lepanto. If you wonder how it looks like, here is a photo.

Christ of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto and the legend of the Dodging Christ

You may noticed that Jesus is in a curious position. His body is quite bended in an almost unnatural posture, with his torso and legs creating a curious semicircle. The story of this crucifix and Jesus’ strange position are of the most interesting and funny to hear about the ancient history of Barcelona and Europe.

On the 7nth of October 1571, a huge sea battle took place near the coast of Lepanto (nowadays Nafpaktos, Greece), the famous Battle of Lepanto. Facing each other were an alliance of Christian States (the Holy League) and the fleet of the powerful Ottoman Empire. It was one of the biggest naval battles in history and one of the bloodiest as well: in a few hours about 50.000 fighters found their death, colouring the sea red with blood. The Admiral of the Christian fleet was the bastard son of Carlos V,  John of Austria, leading his commander ship La Real (The Royal). Built in Barcelona, it was the biggest galley ever seen.

The legend says that the black wooden crucifix now lying in the Cathedral was there as well, right on the deck of La Real, protecting the Christian fleet after the prayers of John of Austria. During the hardest moment of the battle a cannonball shot by the Ottomans was going to impact the image but Jesus, with a fantastic move, dodged the bullet “Matrix style”. The Holy League won and stopped the Ottoman pressure on European soil. From that moment Jesus remained in that strange position we can still admire today.

Battle of Lepanto

Another amazing story related to the Christ of Lepanto says that a Turkish cannonball damaged the deck of the ship, but before it would sink Jesus moved his body to block the hole, saving the day.

This ancient crucifix and its amazing legend, probably created by popular belief and devotion is taken through the streets of Barcelona on selected days, especially during Easter Friday. We think it would  be a good idea to name him Patron of the Dribblers and take him out before every match of Barcelona Football Team to inspire Messi in his crazy dribbles.

This article was written in collaboration with David Burruezo and Other Eyes Routes.

Are you in Barcelona and want to hear more amazing stories? Join our Free Walking Tour of the Gothic Quarter every morning. Click here to book your place!

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