East Sencelles' Legends
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Llegendes i tradicions de l’orient senceller
Sencelles is full of popular literature. It is a vital land, brimming with legends, glosses and traditions that must be known and transmitted, because behind them lies the essence of a community. One of these privileged places is the district’s Levantine area, which is traversed by paths and landscapes where the footprint of many stories delimits the environment in an extraordinary way. Behind this landscape lies a rich narrative that our ancestors transmitted from generation to generation and this must be continued.
On this route, the memory of Blessed Sister Francinaina Cirar – Tia Xiroia – although there are other stories, she’s the protagonist of most of them. But other stories for example are; why was there built an extraordinary defense tower, which nowadays has disappeared? or the reasons why there are two toponyms for Sencelles, one of which is as significant as the very name of the town and the district.
There has been a lot written about the toponym of Sencelles. Even though in the well-known Catalan dictionary Alcover-Moll it isn’t that clear, it is possibly attributed to the Latin cetum cellas that gave rise to Centcelles, as is the case of a place-name in Camp de Tarragona… There are those who say that the bell tower of the parish was put up without the woman, which was due only to the bravery of the men… However, the popular culture has another explanation, clearer and rooted in its historic-legendary. It is said that King Jaume I, after the conquest of Madina Mayurqa started to occupy the rest of the island. When expelling the Saracens from Inkan, he headed towards the district of Qanarusa (Canarrossa). Suddenly there was a tremendous downpour and the troops galloped for shelter to a small town in the middle of the Pla. The poor Saracens on seeing such a troop of soldiers galloping towards them, fled in a hurry to the other end of the island thinking they would be killed. At this, the king began to laugh and said: “Do you see? Only with the commotion of our hundred saddles (cent selles) the infidels have fled! “Said and done!” And that is how from then on the town was called Centselles. And if you don’t believe it, look at the town’s coat of arms and you’ll see under the bell… a saddle!
Sister Francinaina seperates a father and son from fighting
Francinaina Cirer and Carbonell (Sencelles 1781-1855) is an important religious reference for the town. She was the daughter of a humble family and founded la Casa de Caridad (House of Charity) where she was the Mother Superior. Once she died a beatification procedure was granted in 1989 by the Pope Juan Pablo II. Also she became an Illustrious Daughter of the town and a street is named after her. Many houses have a painted ceramic tile remembering some passages of her life. We can also find spread around the town a series of these same tiles dedicated to her memory.
Of all miracles she did in her life, there is one in particular that happened near the town´s cemetery:
Resting with her dear Magdalena, she was called by her name several times; the servant of God thought that it was a companion of hers who was calling and she did not pay attention. For a third time she hears a call again, she gets up quickly and kneels before a small figure of Jesus Crucified saying: What do you want, my dear Lord? “Look,” the voice continued, “go along the Inca road and between the cemetery and the Hort dels Frares you will find a father who is fighting with his son; calm them down.” Obeying Franciaina left and Magdalena wanted to accompany her but she desisted. She arrived at the indicated point and pacified the two who were fighting, who shortly after accompanying the servant of God to the convent, and before Magdalena who met them, embraced with great tenderness.
Caseta de la Beata (The Blessed one´s small house)
This small house is situated at the end of a road that begins precisely at the road of the Beata (Blessed one). It is a simple building built on a plot that belonged to the Cirer family, to be precise Sister Francinaina’s father, Joan Cirer. The house has a gabled roof with a lintel covering the portal. Near there’s another constructed space, used for celebrations or meetings. According to her biographer, when she was young, she came to this spot to help her father with the farming chores. He often sent her to fetch water in the nearby wells, but having fast she secretly returned to the town’s church to take communion. Already ordained, Sister Francinaina would often come to this place where she sometimes would divulgate the doctrines to the young people.
The Tower of s´Eriçal
S´Eriçal, sometimes written Sarissal, is one of the large estates of reference found at the outskirts of Sencelles. It is documented for the first time in 1332 to Bernat Arrom, and was demarcated by the farmstead of Biniferrí amongst other plots of land. Documents from the 15th century show that the house had an important library, “a trunk painted with yellow letters that came from Valencia”, and also a woman slave.
After the Revuelta Foránea (1450-52 ), the estate went to belong to the nobility of Santacília and the following century to the Serras, who are said to have constructed a defensive tower since it is recalled in the inventories of the time, but today nothing of it exists. This building was the origin of a tradition still alive among the people of the region: it is said that the master of the estate had the tower built because he was determined…to contemplate the city without leaving his lands! If this is true, it would be one of the first lookout towers in the history of Mallorca.
The Popular Song-Book of Mallorca, reminds us of a beautiful inhabitant to these houses: “Una n´hi ha a s´Eriçal, / una galant joveneta: / jo per ella pos forqueta / com un carreter a s´hostal”.
Cascanar: llogaret (hamlet) of traditions
One of Sencelle´s most prominent places from its ancient history is the hamlet of Cascanar, where Roman remains have been found. The area continued to be inhabited during Islamic times and from the 13th and 14th century large properties started to be built, which continued up until the modern village was configured, one of Mallorca’s most attractive and genuine places. The possessios that mostly stand out are Can Garau, Can Romanyà, Can Riera and Can Poixot amongst others. For some reason the popular song books didn´t speak well about this small village: “A Cascanar , lo meu bé, / si me perd, no m´hi cerqueu, / perquè vaig fer una creu / que mai més hi tornaré” “At Cascanar, for my good, / if I get lost, don´t look for me, / because I´ve put a cross / and promised to never return” Besides these words, it´s difficult not to return to this charming place!
Another tradition related to Blessed Sister Francinaina Cirer is: on Sundays Aunt Xiroia would come and teach the doctrine to the children of the region. Her memory is still so vivid that inside of Can Marato de Cascanar they keep a bench on which the children sat during their lessons.
It is a mystery to why this cart trail has such a name which links Son Boi´s path with the one of sa Bassa. In Mallorcan toponymy, the term hell appears in many places on the island (Manacor, Escorca, Banyalbufar, Sant Llorenç, etc. It must be understood that in Catholic culture hell is the space destined for eternal punishment of the damned, and therefore, it is usually related to a hard, hostile, wasteful, unfriendly place, etc. But this is not true of Sencelles, but what is true, is after a heavy downpour this path gets so flooded and muddy that trying to go from one side to the other…can result as rather hellish and any hiker will confirm this.