Legend of Saint Ataulfo against a wild Bull

October 24, 2011

The Camino de Santiago is surrounded by mysteries and legends that give it that emblematic and peculiar character that attracts so many of us. It is an inexhaustible source of stories that have reached our days by popular tradition and that we must continue in our days.

One of these many legends is that of San Ataulfo in front of a wild bull (narrated by Acipilón)

During the ninth century, customs in the north of the Iberian Peninsula were not entirely exemplary. We lived an impure time full of monastic scandals, abandoned wives and clerics with concubines. There was a rumor that the Bishop of Compostela, Ataulfo IIHe wanted to end abuses and reestablish ecclesiastical discipline, even if he had to use a firm hand, but such a decision did not please anyone who enjoyed such disturbances.

So, on a cold winter afternoon, my companion Cadón and myself, Acipilón, we received the visit of several rebellious clerics, who were very displeased with the interference of the Compostela bishop, begged us to appear before the then King of Asturias, Alfonso III the Great. We had to accuse Ataulfo of conspiring against his reign and of negotiating with the Moors to give them the Galician lands and we did so, because we also did not want to see our privileges reduced. And it was not an arduous task to convince the king, since among his pretensions was to finish with all the enemies of his crown.

Presentose one day the aforementioned bishop before Alfonso III and had not finished paying his respects when he was taken prisoner. Like any traitor, his punishment would be to abandon him to his fate before a wild bull.

The car day, the square where the event was going to take place was full of people. We all shouted excitedly and anxious to see how the beast finished with that powerful threat. When the beast came out into the ring, it rammed Ataulfo with a rapid race, but just before touching the bishop's clothes and before the astonished gaze of everyone present, the bull stopped short and lowered his head submissively allowing Ataulfo to hold his horns. Regretful, I understood that we had made a mistake because, without a doubt, that day his innocence was proven.

History wanted that these events did not fall into oblivion and that they were immortalized forever in a beautiful capital of the refectory of the Cathedral of Pamplona.