The Legend of the Holy Company or Santa Compaña.

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , /

The legend of the Holy Company (or Santa Compaña) extends from Galicia through Asturias and western of Castilla and León, as well as the northern part of Portugal. The appearance of the Holy Company tradition differs, depending on the area, although the most widespread picture is represented by a retinue of lost souls, dressed in hooded white robes wandering at night. It’s a procession of souls from the Purgatory, sentenced to wander to purge their sins. This gostly procession of souls from the Purgatory, forms two rows, wrapped in shrouds and barefoot. Each ghost has a candle, so when passing it leaves a smell of burning wax in the air. The most important spectre called Estadea is at the front of the row. The procession is headed by a mortal, carrying a large cross and a vessel of holy water, followed by the spirits with candles (sometimes invisible), but leaving a smell that notifies their presence. The person who precedes the procession can be male or female, and it’s believed that whoever fulfills this function can’t remember by day, what happened during the night. These people are recognized usually by their thinnes and pallor. Every night their lamp becomes stronger and each day their pallor increases, because they are not allowed to rest at night, so their health weakens to sickness and no one can identify the cause of this mysterious malady. They are comdemned to wander every night until they die or some victim can be surprised (and placed at the head of the procession with the transfer of the cross). They walk reciting prayers and singing funerary songs, with a small bell ringing sometimes. When they arrive to the forest, all noises in the forest stop. Dogs announce the arrival of the Holy Company with howling and cats flee in terror. How to protect yourself against the Holy Company? In the unlikely event that the company is seen, the witness should carry out a series of rituals that would include the following: You can move out of the path of the company, not looking at them and pretending not to see them. Or you can make a circle with the Star of Solomon or a cross in it and step into it. You can eat something. Or you can pray and do not listen to the voices or the sound of the company. Another option is just throw yourself face down, and wait without moving, even if the company passes over you. Never accept a candle from a member of the procession as this condemns you to be a part of it. In the latter case, just run very fast. Legend has it, that the Holy Company shall not have the power to capture the soul of the mortal who encounters, if he or she is on the steps of a “cruzeiro”, usually located at crossroads, or if you carry a cross with you, and manage to wield it in time.

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