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THE RELICS OF SANTA TECLA DE ICONIO IN SPAIN AND THE ARMENIAN KING OSHIN.
At the beginning of the 14th century, on May 17, 1321, the relics of Saint Thecla arrived in Spain in the city of Tarragona, coming from distant Armenia.
Saint Thecla was an Anatolian martyr (belonging or relating to the peninsula of Anatolia) of the first century, who was and is admired, respected and venerated by all believers, both Orthodox and Catholic Church.
This feat at the time, to transfer his mortal remains to Spain, Tarraco was not without effort, because it was due to the impetus and the efforts made by King James II the Just, who would offer in reciprocity and gratitude numerous gifts to the Armenian King Oshin.
King Oshin of Armenia (1282-1320), belonging to the Hetoumid family, was King in the period from 1307 to 1320, son of the Armenian Kings Leo II and Queen Keran. He fought for a union of the Armenian and Roman churches but that finally and against all odds would cause him a popular rejection. After his poisoning he was succeeded by his son Leo IV.
King James II of Aragon, the Just (1267 Valencia - 1327 Barcelona), was King of Aragon, Valencia and Count of Barcelona as well as King of Sicily, holding the honorary titles of Captain General of the Holy Catholic Church and Standard Bearer.
The justification of King James II was clear, the fact of bringing to Tarraconensis lands where Santa Tecla walked, along with St. Peter, that would give him a great enhancement, not only as King, but as Captain of the Holy Church. At that time in the city a great devotion to Santa Tecla was professed and would mark a great milestone unprecedented in his reign because he would go down in history for such a milestone fulfilling in turn with the people, the clergy and the rest of the powers that be.
The Tarraconensis citizenship had the more than probable certainty that the Saint in her visit to Tarragona came accompanying Saint Paul together with other disciples. We cannot lose sight of the fact that at that time, Tarraco was to a great extent the solemn capital of a large part of Hispania, so that the story acquires the appearance of being more than true when narrated in the Acts of St. Paul and Thecla included in the Apocryphal or extra-canonical Gospels of the 2nd century.
The efforts of James II did not cease and the desired delivery of the relics of St. Thecla was organized, which according to the ambassadors of King James II in their chronicles and which have survived to the present day, were delivered with all respect in a silver box. In return, King Oshin was given 40 thoroughbred Andalusian horses, two thousand Majorcan cheeses and a golden throne for a great Armenian King.
Once the exchange of the mortal remains of Saint Thecla from Armenia took place, the retinue crossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived at the port of Barcelona, where a procession was organized to leave part of these relics in the Monastery of Sant Cugat itself, very close to Barcelona, where they were deposited with all the respect and liturgical ceremonial.
The pilgrimage with the remains of Santa Tecla continued because that was not their final destination by sea to the Tarragona lands of Constantí, previously arriving at the beach of Salou, where they disembarked because at that time Salou still did not have a port, arriving on May 17, 1321 to Constantí. Relics where with great devotion and veneration will be guarded previously and during several months until its definitive delivery to Tarragona, in the Parish Church of Constantí.
This solemn transfer that was prepared for months, would be carried out through a significant entry formed by a great procession in the city of Tarragona from the Parish Church of Constantí. It would be an unprecedented procession even more than a liturgical act attended by all the authorities of the time.
It was a great historical event that has endured over time with great devotion to reach our days because it is even commemorated even after seven centuries, was on May 17, 2022 in a solemn act between Tarragona and Constantí that commemorated the 700th anniversary of the arrival of the relics of Santa Tecla, Tarragona to honor the patron saint of Tarragona.
In this transfer 700 years ago, King Jaume II and the Infante Alfonso took part as well as the Archbishop Jimeno de Luna. Two important guilds still in force today also participated: the Guild of Marejants and the Guild of Farmers. But also the religious, economic, military and political powers and of course all those pilgrims who moved with great faith from all over Spain, many hoping to obtain thanks to their prayers and it is fair to recognize the intervention of some favor or special miracle for those entrusted, the final transfer was expected with great joy and solemnity and an unprecedented reception was organized as if it were a posthumous tribute to the Saint of the first century and it was a success.
Author: Dr. José Daniel Barquero Cabrero. Professor and Professor of Economics and Business and CEO of SER, Strategic Economic Relations.
Copyright 2023 RACEF. Royal Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences.