Monk or bishop, two figures that bring the celebration to life

“The history and legend of the city of Palencia is infused with the figure of St. Turibius”

Turibius, Bishop of Astorga or eremitic monk

Turibius, Bishop of Astorga

He did his pastoral work in Palencia in the middle of the 5th century, during the decline of the Western Roman Empire. At the behest of Pope Leo I, seeing that the city was falling prey to Priscillianism, he went there to strike back against this unwanted influence. His first sermons were unfruitful and, displeased by the rebellious people of Palencia, he prayed to God for a miracle that would draw them away from the sect. And that was when the Carrión River burst its banks and flooded the city. The people of Palencia, in light of this divine retribution, repented and embraced Catholic doctrine. A tradition expressed in the work of Alonso Fernández de Madrid (1474-1559).

Turibius, eremitic monk

Behind this figure of miraculous occurrences there are also many historical documents. Specifically, a letter from Montanus, metropolitan bishop during the Second Council of Toledo, uncovered by Jesús San Martín, the priest in charge of the Cathedral archives. From these documents, we have learned that Turibius, the hermit, lived in a solitary location (which could have been the Otero knoll) and devoted his life to contemplation, penitence and fighting Priscillian heresy. Plus, it is known that he was stoned by those in favour of this sect and that the city flooded soon after. This made the townspeople and clergy repent, seen in the vow made by the Canonry and the City to make a pilgrimage to the Otero knoll every year, in procession.

Monastery of San Martín

Santo Toribio de Liébana Monastery

This same monk, Turibius, decided to retire to Mount Viorna (Cantabria), where he founded a monastery dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. A sacred place that, years later with the Arab invasion of the peninsula, would come to house the relics of St. Turibius, Bishop of Astorga. Both of these figures, together in the mountains of Potes, gave rise to St. Turibius of Liébana.

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