The Fabric of Saintly Proof: Leocadia of Toledo from Orrente to Calderón

Peter Cherry, Arantza Mayo

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St Leocadia, a fourth-century Toledan Christian virgin and patron saint of the city, miraculously emerged from a sepulchre in the presence of Ildephonsus, Archbishop of Toledo, and the Visigothic King Recesvintus, in the 7th century. After this wondrous event, in which a fragment of her veil was cut as proof of her public visitation, her body was removed from Toledo to be preserved from the Muslim conquest, taken to Flanders and eventually repatriated to her home town at the request of Philip II as the Lutheran threat to the Spanish northern territories escalated. A wave of literature and images concerning her figure was produced in the wake of three events: the return of her relics to Toledo in 1587, those of Ildephonsus in 1596 and the inauguration of the chapel of Our Lady of the Tabernacle, also in Toledo, in 1616. The following essays consider why and how this virgin saint became instrumental in cementing the alliance of Church and Monarchy as well as buttressing the Archbishop of Toledo’s status as Primate of Spain in the early seventeenth century. Focusing on the historical, visual and literary portraits of Leocadia, they examine the manner in which Early Modern Spanish authors—Miguel Hernández, Lope de Vega, José de Valdivielso and Pedro Calderón de la Barca—and artists—Francisco Merino, Blas de Prado, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Antonio de Lanchares and Pedro Orrente—imagined and recreated the narrative of her sanctity paying particular attention to the function of public witness as effected by their works as well as by their readers and viewers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1370
Number of pages32
JournalBulletin of Spanish Studies
Issue number7-8
Early online date20 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Miguel Hernández, Lope de Vega, José de Valdivielso, Calderón de la Barca, hagiography, witness, relics, Leocadia

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