Sunday, April 6, 2008

Looking for Convivencia: Santa Maria La Blanca, Toledo

Only a small plaque on the walled entrance indicate that the Church of Santa Maria La Blanca was originally a synagogue in the twelfth century. A visitor wouldn't necessarily be aware of it, except perhaps for some Judaica in the adjoining gift shop. And this one hidden six-pointed star... Off in a corner, high up near the ceiling, added during a renovation, we would never have known it existed, had we not been told.

The Synagogue was considered an example of La Convivencia, "The Coexistence," when it was first built in Toledo in 1180: designed by Moorish architects on Christian soil for use as a Synagogue. The Moorish architecture is very beautiful, uplifting and inspiring. To simply say it became a church in the fifteenth century glosses the truth of the Inquisition.

I am intrigued by the one hidden six-pointed star, added in a later renovation. What is the back story? Was it a Converso workman who snuck it in? (A Converso was a Jew compelled to convert to Catholicism). Was there a Converso overseer who allowed it to slip by? Was it an act of civil disobedience? Why was it allowed to remain? Did La Convivencia go underground ? Did it remain in the hearts of of certain individuals, particularly those who had intermarried over the centuries, whose DNA was more like than unlike each others?

Still looking for Convivencia.

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