Visiting Grandpa — The Dia de San Fernando

Yesterday was a holiday in Sevilla. But there was no parade. Well, there was no parade that I’m aware of; there could very well have been a parade somewhere in the city.

San Geraldo griped about the fact that the stores were closed yet again, but I reminded him that the holiday was in honor of the birthday of his very own 22-Greats Grandfather Fernando III of Castille and León. Or, more simply, San Fernando El Rey (Saint Ferdinand the King), the patron saint of Sevilla. If there really was no parade yesterday, I do know for a fact at least that there were three special masses held in San Fernando’s honor in the Cathedral of Sevilla where he is entombed. I did not make Jerry go to mass in the morning, but I did make him walk with me to the Cathedral in the afternoon to pay our respects to Grandpa.


You may remember that Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-Grandpa Fernando is buried in a gold, silver, and crystal casket in the Cathedral. His tomb is inscribed in four languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and an early version of Castillano (the most common language in contemporary Spain and the one I have been trying to learn). Fernando III was canonized San Fernando El Rey, more than 400 years after his death, in 1671 by Pope Clement X.


He spends eternity preserved in a grand chapel with his golden crown encircling his head as he lies beneath the statue of the Virgin of the Kings. Unfortunately, we have yet to see him because the chapel has been under restoration for months. I was convinced it would be done in time for his birthday, which is why I dragged his multi-great-grandson San Geraldo there in the 97-degree (36C) heat. Well, I was wrong. We arrived to find only the closed ornate gate backed by plywood between the stone carvings of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand (born about 300 years later). Lucky for us, as residents we pay no entrance fee.


San Geraldo was very forgiving. He sat for a while in an ancient pew in the cool of the great stone Cathedral and contemplated the magnificent organ. We’ve decided to go back some Sunday to hear it played.


We did, however, get to see a famous statue of San Fernando El Rey as well as his flag, the standard that was carried by his troops. The large flag flew above Sevilla’s mezquita (now the royal palace) when the city was turned over to King Fernando III in the year 1248. It is in pristine condition having been meticulously preserved in the Cathedral for nearly six centuries. It is permanently displayed in a glass case. Well, Greats, we tried. Maybe we’ll see you next year.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

24 thoughts on “Visiting Grandpa — The Dia de San Fernando”

  1. What a wonderful place to visit – and how much more fun knowing of the family connection! George may soon find himself taking me on holiday to Sevilla.

  2. What's a holiday without a parade? That seems odd in Sevilla or all of España for that matter.

    I'm impressed with the background of the great, great…did you actually sit there and count them?

    My last name is Rodriguez…you may not know this but all those with the last name of Rodriguez are direct descendants of Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar whom you might know as "El Cid" Campeador. The name is easy to figure out: Rojo, Rico, hijo de. (He was supposed to have been a redhead)


    1. Raulito:
      Oh yeah, I counted (and I wonder how many of my friends are counting as they read)!

      I love the history of your name. I don't have anything so exciting in my family.

  3. How absolutely beautiful!

    But seriously, you would think that being a descendant would get you a little closer to the action, wouldn't you? 🙂


  4. I'd love to tour those old churches and cathedrals, but I'd wait for a cooler day. I hope you don't get high humidity with it. As we always say, "It ain't the heat, it's the humidity!"

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      The humidity wasn't bad yesterday (worse today, although cooler), but it was very pleasant inside the stone cathedral (and there's also ice cream to make it better).

  5. How can Jerry be so humble!? And I hope you 'bow' to him on occasion! lol
    I'd be in heaven, so to speak, wondering around that church with all that history. Great photos Mitch.

    1. Jim:
      Ah, San Geraldo, I guess when you're surrounded by so much greatness it just seems perfectly normal. LOL.

      The cathedral is very impressive. I'll share more interiors at other times (especially if we go back to hear the organ).

  6. Holy cow. If Bing was descended from royalty, she would never let me live it down. Never.

    And I ADORE those pews. ADORE them. I would love to have my own special space to sit. Might actually attend church if I could do that.

    1. Oh, Maria, Jerry is descended from so much royalty (such as Eleonore of Aquitaine, Henry II of England etc., Louis II of France, Duncan I of Scotland… it goes on and on), it barely gets a nod anymore. As far as I know though, only Fernando III is the only saint… other than San Geraldo that is!

      Those carved seats are some of the 117 choir stalls. Each one has a different human-like figure carved beside it. Really beautiful.

  7. It must be something to live in a country with so much history.
    Although those Hapsburgs were a bit knavish at times,

  8. G-Grandpa obviously has more medical problems than they are letting on. That plywood sheet is the equivalent of a hospital curtain, and behind it are dozens of scurrying nurses and drip-stands and beep-beep machines. Send him flowers and grapes!

    Fantastic church! I still think in terms of conversion into a private dwelling every time I see one – and that would make a spectacular apartment …

    1. The Owl Wood:
      You know, there are NO recent photos of San Fernando in his golden crown. Hmmm…

      This "church" is a bit much for me to imagine as a private dwelling. Anyway, whenever the Dowager Duchess would see one of those really grand old houses, she would say, "Ugh. Too much to dust."

  9. Wow, those carved choir stalls are something else! These are reminiscent to me of some that are on display in the Cluny museum in Paris (the Medieval museum). Speaking of Paris, those little gold castles with the red background are all over La Sainte Chapelle in Paris, too, because the king who had it built (Louis IX, Saint Louis) was descended on his mother's side from Spain's Castille royal family, and that was their symbol. I love this stuff!

    1. Judith:
      It all fits together. Jerry is the 23-greats nephew of Louis IX. King of France, and his wife Marguerite de Provence — through Marguerite's sister Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor's husband Henry III, King of England (who, like Fernando III, were Jerry's 22-greats grandparents).

      (I, by the way, knew at least FIVE great-aunts and uncles.)

    1. Judith:
      Yep. That would be Jerry's 24-greats grandmother!

      I get a thrill from Jerry's ancestry. The information on mine is so limited (and I'm sure wouldn't bring up anything of note). Jerry's lines make our travels much more personal (and real), and they make history much more interesting for us both. (But wouldn't it be nice to have one little gemstone from San Fernando's crown?!?)

  10. The next Thursday, comes in the procession of Corpus Christi, San Geraldo's grandpa, with ermine cape included.
    This procession, do not miss the you owe, but it's early, about 8:30 am, is the most important of Seville.
    And Wednesday visiting the altars assembled by the travel of Corpus, a monumental arch ephemeral in the Plaza San Francisco

    1. Oh, SOONKS, thank you so very much! I had seen photos on the web of the statue out on the streets in a fur cape and I wondered when that happened. I am so grateful to you for this information. I will be out bright and early Thursday to see Bisabuelo.

      We saw the arch being built on Plaza San Francisco and didn't know what that was either. YOU are my new enciclopedia!

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