welcome to the history page. This week we have another patron saint's day to
commemorate: Sant Rafel de sa Creu, which in English means 'Saint Raphael of
the Cross'. In this case, the term 'cross' is not a religious indication, but
refers to the fact that this central area was a crossroads between several different
villages. Because it connected so many different areas, almost everyone in old
Ibiza had reason to travel through sa Creu at one time or another. In that sense,
nothing has changed, for Sant Rafel is still the island's principal junction
and, for such a small place, it continues to attract an uncommonly high number
of wayfarers. Perhaps the nature of those who pass through it has changed, but
the fact of passage remains a constant.
albeit unwittingly, have made Sant Rafel a place of sacred pilgrimage with Privilege
and Amnesia as two of Europe's most important shrines to the party culture.
Anyone who has shopped at the big Hypercentre, or got water at the drive-through
well adjacent to the Sant Rafel service station, has also visited this township.
Due to its centrality, Sant Rafel is also home to Ibiza's fire brigade. And,
of course, the village is a Mecca for fine dining, tapas and typical home cooking
(Spanish style) - a fact that will interest our Sinclair no end! As in the days
of yore, almost everyone, for one reason or another, has passed through this
still important crossroads.
very reason, almost everyone will be familiar with Sant Rafel's beautiful church
that stands so majestically above the Eivissa-Sant Antoni Road. This stunning
work of popular architecture belongs to the third wave of church construction
initiated by Manuel Abad y Lasierra in 1785.
many other rural areas of the day, sa Creu had grown to the point that it needed,
not just a small chapel, but a proper house of worship. During his reconnaissance
tour of the island, the young bishop took note of the pre-existing chapel, but
felt that the church should occupy a loftier perch and ordered that it be built
on the high hill where it stands today.
wont to happen, there were a handful of inhabitants who did not approve of the
site chosen by the bishop. In the case of Sant Rafel, however, the majority
of people supported Abad y Lasierra's decision and quickly got to work at the
official site. As island historian, Joan MarÝ Cardona, writes, "The inhabitants
of el FornÓs and the surrounding area - who were the ones who had raised the
old [chapel] so that it would be near their houses - would not stop fretting
about the issue, and, for this reason, all the others [in the parish] hurried
to build the temple as soon as possible so that the episcopal will, which favoured
them, would not end up changing as it subsequently did in Sant AgustÝ."
add, that the episcopal will was also railroaded into submission by the hard-headed
Labritjans in the case of Sant Joan (See Weekly Edition 016). The inhabitants
of sa Creu knew all too well that anything was possible once a core group of
stubborn Ibicencos got an idea into their heads. Thus, with astonishing swiftness,
they put up the Sant Rafael church in a record eight years' time. No church
up to that point had been raised so quickly, the average length of construction
being twelve years.
in Time . . .
the precipitousness with which the church was built resulted in certain structural
flaws. In 1854, some 60 years later, major reconstruction was needed. The safety
of the church had become so dubious that most families have simply stopped attending
mass, a rather exceptional occurrence in those days. Families who owned a cart
would go to either Ibiza Town or Sant Antoni for Sunday services.
villagers chipped in and by 1877 the church had been repaired, and some extra
flourishes were added, too. Today Sant Rafel church is as sound as a pound,
so don't be afraid to go in and have a look during the festivities that will
be going on all week. See you next time for a museum update.