Stories and Legends
Legend of Gallows Hill
The legend says that in Cortegana in the 15th century, there lived a woman famous for her miraculous cures and her mysterious potions. All the town came to her house, situated at the top of a small hill outside the town.
This wise woman was so famous, and so beloved by her neighbours, that her name came to the attention of the Inquisition, recently installed in the town at the request of the Mayor. The good woman was called many times to the offices of that institution, situated in a street near to which the parish church was being built. Although they questioned her closely, they could never find any motive to condemn her.
Time passed and the good reputation of the woman increased in the land of Cortegana and its surroundings, to such a point that people waited in the open even in the cold nights of winter for her to wake up and attend to their illnesses.
One fine day, the woman was coming home and on the way back saw with dismay the body of her son hanging lifeless from the branches of a small oak tree. The woman cried so piteously that her cries were heard by all who had in the days gone by come to seek remedies for their illnesses.
There, she spent the whole night prostrate at the feet of her child, then took him down from the cursed tree and buried him in the same place. Having done this, the woman bent down, touching the ground and with the most profound grief said:
“This soil that shelters the body of my son, unjustly murdered by those who say they work in the name of God, and which is watered with the tears of my grief, will nevermore have the ability to nourish any tree, now or in the days to come”.
The woman left and went to live in Portugal and was never heard of again
That hilltop is still today the only one on which no tree has ever grown. And so, nowadays, in Cortegana, it is known as Gallows Hill.
Legend of an Apparition..Have pity on me!
For the sacred image of Our Lady of Piety and Pity, patron saint of Cortegana, there is a strange legend about how it appeared. Every town or village has its own particular legends, stories about social, cultural or historical events, passed down by word of mouth and from generation to generation, coming finally to our days, where we ourselves have to judge them as we see fit.
It is said that in the 15th century, in the place where now stands the Chapel of Our Lady of Piety and Pity, in the grounds of the medieval Castle, a labourer was working his lands. Suddenly, as he struck the ground with his adze, he heard a woman’s voice saying to him ”Have pity on me.” The labourer, surprised, not seeing anyone, except himself in that place, continued his work, but a few minutes later, the same woman’s voice repeated the same words: “Have pity on me.”
Stopping again, the labourer made sure that he was the only person thereabouts and moments later, starting to dig again, he heard the female voice repeating for a third time: “Have pity on me.”
At this, the labourer uncovered from the soil, illuminated by a strong ray of sunlight, a small image of Mary.
The Virgin had been buried in that place during the Saracen invasion, for fear of profanation.
After this, the image was consecrated with the name of Our Lady of Piety and Pity, as an allusion to the words pronounced when she had been hit, fortuitously, by the labourer in his work. Piety and Pity!