We arrived in Vic and had no trouble finding the hostel. We checked in and were assigned a room on the top floor at the end of a hall. There was a group of teenagers who were doing some sort of activities, and I think that Toni, the man who runs the hostel, put us as far from the noise as he could. Toni is the sort of person you like as soon as you meet him–he is full of energy and enthusiasm! I had to smile whenever I saw him.
We decided to explore the centre of Vic. The catedral de Sant Pere Apòstol de Vic is a mixture of styles: the bell tower and crypt are Romanesque, the cloister and the altar are Gothic, the chapel of Saint Bernard is Baroque, and the west facade is neoclassical. We first visited the crypt where I made one of the banners which appear at the top of this blog. The capitals are, in fact, pre-Romanesque.
The square bell tower on the north side of the cathedral dates from the mid-eleventh century. It has Lombardian decoration which is very attrractive.
Next door to the Cathedral is the Museu Episcopal de Vic. When we entered and went to buy tickets we were told the the first Thursday of each month there was free admission! The museum has an impressive collection of Romanesque art; in fact its collection of alter frontals and baldequins may be better than the MNAC.
I particularly enjoy the alter fronts which tell a story. For example the one from Santa Margarida de Vila-seca tells the story of its patron saint.
The Legend of Saint Margaret (from the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine):
One day when she was fifteen years old, she and several other maidens were busy guarding their nurse’s sheep, when the prefect Olybrius chanced to pass by the place, and seeing a maid of such radient beauty, was quick to become enamoured of her. He therefore called his servants and said: ‘Go and carry off this girl!’… And when the child was brought to him he questioned her upon her condition, her name and her religion. She answered that she was of noble estate, that her name was Margaret, and that she was a Christian.
On the morrow he summoned her again… Thereupon she was bound upon a rack and beaten cruelly, first with rods and then with sharp iron instruments, so that all her bones were laid bare, and the blood poured forth from her body as from a pure spring… Meanwhile the prefect, unable to bear the sight of such an outpouring of blood hid his face with his mantle.
Then there appeared to her a hideous dragon, who sought to throw itself upon her and devour her… the monster seized her by the head and drew her into his maw, and it was then that she made the sign of the cross and caused the dragon to burst, and the damsel emerging unharmed from his body.
On the morrow… she was stripped of her garments and was cast into the fire, and her body broiled with burning brands, in such wise that the people marvelled that so tender a maid might suffer so many torments… Finally the prefect… ordered her to be beheaded as quickly as possible. And she asked in especial that whenever a woman in labour should call upon her name, the child might be brough forth without harm. And a voice from Heaven told her that her prayers were granted.