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Saint Dominguito del Val
Dominguito's martyrdom, done in mockery of Christ's crucifixion
Martyr
Born unknown, Saragossa, Aragon, Spain
Died c. 1250, Saragossa, Aragon, Spain
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast 31 August
Patronage Altar boys, acolytes and choirboys

Saint Dominguito del Val (died c. 1250) was a choirboy and the alleged victim of a ritual murder by Jews in Saragossa (also known as Zaragoza). Dominguito's story is related to the blood libel against Jews that grew in prominence in the 12th and 13th centuries of the Middle Ages, and contributed to antisemitic incidents. Saint Dominguito is no longer included on the official Roman Catholic liturgical calendar; however, there is still a chapel dedicated to him in the cathedral of Saragossa. There exists little historical evidence of Dominguito aside from the stories and legends built around him; it is difficult to ascertain how much, if any, his story is true.

According to the story, the Jews of Saragossa plotted to kill every Christian in Saragossa. The magic ritual to do so required a Christian heart. They captured the innocent Dominguito on Good Friday, re-enacted Jesus's trial by Pilate and Caiaphas in celebration with Dominguito as Jesus, then ritually murdered him via crucifixion. Luckily for the Christians, the blackguard sent to finish the ritual stopped by a church for unclear reasons and was found with the boy's heart. He confessed, and all the Jews of Saragossa were executed due to their murderous, and likely fictional, plot.

Dominguito del Val is considered the patron saint of altar boys, acolytes, and choirboys.

Dominguito's legend

The historical basis for Dominguito is unclear. No medieval references to the legend have been found; the first texts that recount his tale date from the sixteenth century. According to the legend, King Alfonso the Wise wrote the original rendition of the story in 1250, saying "We have heard it said that some very cruel Jews, in memory of the Passion of Our Lord on Good Friday, kidnapped a Christian boy and crucified him."

Dominguito was born in Saragossa of Aragon and was admitted as a cathedral altar-boy and chorister because of his special qualities of great piety and purity, and for his beautiful voice. Each day he would go from his house to the church to assist in the Mass, to learn chants and study in the parish school. In his journey there and back he had to pass by a Jewish area of narrow side-streets. The Jews were greatly displeased when Domingo and his companions sang hymns to Christ in the streets, and decided to try to make him disappear.

A Jewish fortune-teller announced that if the heart of a Christian and a consecrated Host into the river, every follower of Christ who drank from those waters would die. Being fanatics, the Jews then paid an evil woman to go take communion and then slip the Sacred Host in a handkerchief. She did so and brought them the Bread. Then they went to a very poor and hungry Christian man and offered him a bag of gold if he would give them the heart of one of his children. However, the man was a good Christian; he pretended to accept the deal and, while he had one of his children scream desperately as though his heart were being taken out, he killed a pig and took out its heart, which is very similar to that of a human being. He sold the still bleeding heart to the Jews instead for the bag of gold.

The legend goes on to say that the Jews threw the pig's heart and the holy consecrated host into the river that ran through the city, and that in a few days a terrible epidemic developed among the pigs in the surrounding areas, many of which died. The Jews realized that the man who sold them the heart had deceived them. Therefore they decided to get hold of the heart of a Christian child themselves so that there were no mistakes.

They had already obtained another holy consecrated host through the hands of a sacristan and so on Good Friday they decided to sacrifice a child, reenacting the tortures with which in another time the Jews of old killed Jesus Christ. So as Dominguito del Val was walking by one of the Jewish houses in his acolyte's and choirboy's cassock, some great big hands took him by the neck and covered his face with a mantle, blocking his mouth with cloth so he could not say a word. The Jews then mockingly acted out the tribunal that condemned Jesus; one Jew played Pilate, another Caiaphas, and another Anias. They asked him if he wants to carry on being a follower of Christ and he exclaimed that, yes, he would prefer to die rather than betray the religion of Our Lord Jesus. So they sentenced him to death and crucified him.

The Jews then removed his heart and sent one of their number to go with the Consecrated Host and the boy's heart and throw them both in the river. All the Christians that drunk from the river would then die. But they had no idea what was about to happen to them.

The man then decided to enter a church and pretend to pray — according to the legend, "in order that no-one should be suspicious of him." Kneeling there on a pew, he opened the book in which he was carrying the Sacred Host. However, some ladies who were nearby saw with wonder that brilliant light was emanating from this book. They supposed that this man must be a saint and went to inform the priests of this marvel. They came and asked him to show them the book and there they found the Sacred Host. For some reason, this was suspicious and the ladies then called the authorities who searched him and found Dominguito's heart.

This rogue, on seeing himself discovered, was filled with dread and promised that if they spared him he would denounce all those who had committed the crime. So he was spared. The authorities went to the houses of the Jews and seized them all. They died on the gallows as partners in crime, except for the one who denounced them, who paid for his sin with life imprisonment.

References

  • Simon Whitechapel, Flesh Inferno: Atrocities of Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition (Creation Books, 2003). ISBN 1840681055

See also

  • Saint Dominic Savio, another patron saint of choirboys and acolytes.
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