(by Pablo Burgués)
As I was telling you last week (you can read it here), in 534 AD the Byzantine Empire (the dishy cousin of the Roman Empire) set foot in Carthage and went through the Vandal nation. 80 years of unruly Vandal hegemony in the Western Mediterranean ended this way, and the Balearics turned again into happy and jaunty Roman provinces.
The people in Ibiza received the news with a great hullabaloo, because they thought that the new chiefs would help them to promote the wonderful beaches and cheap hotels at the island, and that would translate into the arrival of more hordes of lavish tourists willing to spend indecent amounts of sestertii. But the reality was quite another…
It has to be taken into account that at that time in Ibiza there was no decent beach club, not even a miserable disco where the lively Romans could move their togas. Due to this, together with the fact that the Empire was at war across the world, no one appeared.
A clear signal of how Rome forgot Ibiza is the fact that there is practically no vestige of the Byzantine period along the island, except for a small chapel built underground in Santa Agnès and that, by life’s coincidences, is devoted to Saint Inés.
This is her at least hardly empirical legend: Agnes of Rome was an extremely beautiful young woman from a noble and rich family. The girl was at a marriageable age and a lot of boys were making a play for her, night and day. However, she, being as she was, systematically rejected all of them adducing that her heart belonged only to Christ. It seems that one of the suitors, who was a bad loser, reported the girl to the Roman authorities because at those times to be Christian meant a death sentence.
The judge who handled the case turned out to be crazy but likable and, instead of ordering the girl’s death, sentenced her to live in a brothel for the rest of her life. But in spite of being there for many years, naked, the girl never lost her virginity. How’s that possible? It’s very simple. Miraculously her hair began to grow more and more and she could completely hide her body with it. There was only a rather crafty man who considered that hair burqa was attractive, but as soon as he touched Immaculate Inés he became blind.
Noticing that the sentence hadn’t had the expected effect, the judge decided to pronounce another one that was even more “rehabilitating”, and condemned her to death. Before cutting the girl’s throat the executioner tried to make her abjure, and, thus, save her life. But she, very dignified, replied:
“It would be an insult to my husband (Christ) that I tried to like another man. I would only give myself to the one who chose me first. What are you waiting for, executioner? Let this body -that may be loved by eyes I hate- die”.
For all of this and much more, Saint Inés is ranked in Top 10 Great Martyrs of the Church. And that is the end of this Byzantine story, folks.
To be continued…
Translation: Dora Sales
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