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13 Geese

Barcelona is an old, old city, the kind of place where they find other ruins buried under ruins. Residents seem to delight in the layers of their city, Roman excavations, sacrifices to the civil war, the rest of it. Look at everything we’ve done, everything we’ve been through, how strong we are, how strange. Barcelona is unusual. It knows it; it loves it.

One of the finest, and strangest (in my opinion), is a collection of white geese in a cloister off the cathedral. As it goes they’re in tribute to a little girl from the Roman occupation who, whilst minding her geese, made trouble for the Romans by being Catholic, brave, the rest of it; so they did what they usually did (horrible things) and she died a matyr — not before snow feel unseasonably and shrouded her, and doves and angels and all manner of beautiful things swam about. So Eulalia was canonised, and had a few things named after her, and then in 800-something a bishop stole her toe but an angel made him give it back. Now the nuns keep the geese in her name, and it is as beautiful and solemn as it is absolutely absurd, these birds parading an ancient cathedral.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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