Part the Two Hundred Forty Fifth: Auto de Fe y Amor
“Things were grave in Cadiz, my parents told me,” said Samuel as he moved a little closer to Hope, tugged towards her when she squeezed his hand. “Mama used to tell me this story, of what happened that made them leave Cadiz.”
“Tell me,” Hope said as she drew him closer.
“There was a time before my parents were married, when the Inquisitors decided to insure that the Conversos demonstrated that they now believed. They held an auto general, taking away families they had claimed to have evidence against that, despite their conversions, they were practicing the faith of their fathers. They disappeared for close to a month before they were seen again.”
“They were brought to the square, in front of the Iglesia de Santiago,” said Samuel. “They were marched there, naked down to the waist and without shoes, men and women, whipped on by the Brotherhood. And each one bore a candle; young, old, no matter, they all had a candle in their hands that they held before the Familiars, who were on the steps of the church inspecting each Converso who came before them, asking them questions before they were led away back to the calabozo they were locked up in.”
“Proof that they were ready to receive the word. They were supposed to do that six Fridays in a row before they proved themselves to their satisfaction. And after showing enough piety, and a large enough gift of everything they had to the church, by the sixth week they would have their candles lit and be declared believers in good standing.
“But not everyone wanted to be in such good standing with the Inquisition. On the fourth Friday, Esther de la Barbate, a woman of twenty, was before the Familiars, holding her candle before them as they made their queries and asked their questions. Papa when he tells this said one of the churchmen made a comment on her bosom, which Mama disputes, but no matter, she lashed out at them.
“They both say, she took her candle and used it to take out the eye of the Calificador. It went right into his eye, popping it out like a ball being kicked away as the cand- Are you shivering, Hope?”
“J-just the image,” she replied, “sorry.”
He tried to put his arm around her to comfort her, and she subtly fit it over her back as she would adjust a cloak.
“Esther?” she asked when his arm was in the right place.
“Oh, si, the Brotherhood rushed her and held her down, and the rest of the Familiars declared her beyond redemption. They quickly ordered a stake be placed in the square, and within moments before the whole of Cadiz she was burned alive.
“And that very night, both my parents’ families quickly offered all their possessions to a ship master who offered to smuggle them out of Spain. They both say they met each other for the first time that night on the ship, and that it was not long after they got to Amsterdam that they married.”
“Interesting way for two people to meet and fall in love,” Hope said close to a whisper as she pulled him in tighter …
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