Welcome to the History page. We are going
to take a brief respite this week from our war chronicles
in order to report on a current event of the highest order.
Last Friday, 15th November, as the closing act of a week-long
tribute to the late Joan Marí Cardona, this celebrated
historian and scholar was named Adoptive Son of the City of
Eivissa. Coming only ten months after the Canons death,
his posthumous tribute carries double significance, firstly
because it has been ninety years since this honour was bestowed
on a member of island society, and secondly because Don Joan
is the first rural-born Ibicenco ever to receive the title.
The name of Don Joan will no doubt ring
a bell in readers minds as I have often cited him in
my writings. (See our LiveIbiza Archive articles
Weekly Edition 007 of Saturday 14th April 2001 and Weekly
Edition 049 of Saturday 2nd February 2002 in particular).
As someone I had the privilege of knowing, I cannot refrain
from sharing a pennys worth of my thoughts on the occasion
of his adoption by the city. To say that Don Joan was the
mentor of my historical career is both true and at the same
time insufficient to describe his instrumentality in my development
as a history writer. He was, quite simply, the lodestar in
my quest to unlock the islands ancient legacy. Year
after year, over the course of the decade that I knew him,
this kind and unassuming man took me by the hand and led me
down the unsuspected byways of Ibizas venerable past.
I could scarcely have begun to scratch the surface of Ibicenco
history had Don Joan not shared so generously with me the
fruits of his life-long research. But, of course, these ramblings
are neither here nor there. They simply surge to the fore
whenever I remember Don Joan. Now Ive got them off my
chest, we can proceed to the matter at hand.
Simplicity and Industry
Attended by more than one hundred people,
Don Joans adoption ceremony commenced with
a moving homage delivered by the citys mayor, Xico Tarrés.
It is only fitting to include an excerpt from this opening
speech for the mayors eloquent words are, in effect,
the voice of the people, the voice of Ibiza. As he spoke them,
history was in the making:
Today the Eivissa Town Hall opens
its doors in order to officially proclaim an Adoptive Son
of the City. We do so with great pride because the person
upon whom this distinction has been bestowed possessed a surplus
of excellent qualities. The decision to grant this award has
been unanimously upheld and advocated from the very word go.
All those consulted on this question passionately defended
the figure of Joan Marí Cardona, and not exactly because
it is the done thing. In fact, it has been ninety
years since Vila has proclaimed a new Adoptive Son. Today,
we do so full of love and recognition, and even so
it seems that this title is too meagre for a man who, for
decades, has earned the admiration of all Ibicencos, a man
who made respect, simplicity and hard work his identifying
trademarks. I believe I speak on behalf of all of the members
of this council when I say that we fully realize what a great
honour it is for this city to have an Adoptive Son of Don
Tarrés then went on to commend the
scholar on his tireless labour in the field of historical
research as well as his unflagging and unsalaried social service.
The mayor concluded, however, by emphasizing that despite
all of the historians contributions in material terms,
what inspires even more
admiration is his person, his simplicity and affability, his
honesty and modesty. Anyone who has had occasion to walk with
him around the island will tell you that he emanated humanity
with his every word, that each of his history lessons was
moreover a lesson in life, in respect toward others, in defence
of these islands patrimony, all arising from a deep
love of everything that surrounded him.
Science and Passion
The ceremony then carried on with an in
depth exploration of the historians professional trajectory,
presented by Felip Cirer, the director of the Enciclopedia
de Eivissa i Formentera and a personal friend of Don Joan.
Cirer qualified the historians oeuvre as simultaneously
scientific and passionate, a reference to the empirical vigour
with which the scholar researched his books. His empiricism,
however, was always tempered but not diminished by a profound
love for his homeland. Although Don Joans curriculum
vita is too lengthy to reproduce in full, I have included
a synopsis of his most outstanding accomplishments.
Born on 19th October 1925, Don Joan grew
up in the village of Sant Rafel in the heart of the Ibicenco
countryside. From an early age he exhibited both a strong
religious and intellectual bent, a vocation which led him
temporarily away from Ibiza to the seminary in Valencia and
finally to the Pontifical University in Salamanca. After being
ordained in 1952, Don Joan served as the parish priest in
Sant Carles for one year before being called upon to substitute
Isidor Macabich as the keeper of the archives at the Cathedral.
Macabich trained his young protégé in the tasks
of record-keeping and palaeography (the deciphering of old
documents), skills in which Don Joan soon became proficient.
The priest spent long hours reorganizing the archives, streamlining
its filing system, and pouring over the disjointed fragments
of past centuries trying to reconstruct Ibizas forgotten
Far from being a recluse, however, Don Joan
was highly active in community life and in 1959 he founded
the islands first radio station, Radio Popular, which
he headed up for twenty years. During this time he also served
as teacher at the Seminary of Ibiza and as the rector of Santa
Creu Church. In 1977, the now mature priest was sent by the
Bishop to act as the director and administrator at the newly
founded Senior Citizens Home, The Reina Sofía
Residence. From that moment on, Don Joan lived in one of the
homes modest apartments, side by side with the folk
he looked after. He died there in his bed on 18th January,
During the twenty-five years he spent running
the Home, the priest also served as the president of the Institute
of Ibicenco Studies for eighteen years and the director of
the Caritas charity organization for ten years. His unceasing
commitments notwithstanding, Don Joan wrote and published
eighteen books between the years 1976 and 1999, as well as
one book which was never published (his first), and two books
that he did not manage to complete before death claimed him.
The public honours he earned during his
well-spent life include the Cross of Saint George awarded
by the Catalan federal government in 1992, the Gold Medal,
awarded by the Island Council in 1995, the Gold Medal awarded
by the Balearic Council in 2000, and the Pitiusan Islands
Award in 2001, given annually by the local newspaper, Diario
As impressive as these achievements were,
such lists and enumerations seem a pale reflection when compared
to the true value of a man who had the rare ability to live
every moment in harmony with others. It was one of the highest
privileges of my life to have known him. Thank you Don Joan
for everything you gave us. Your legacy consists of so much
more than mere history.
Join us next week when, unfortunately, we
will have to return to our unfinished business in a world
where love and harmony were distinctly lacking. Until then.