The Legend of the Holy Face
Among the many legends that circulated in medieval Europe, the “Legend of the Holy Face of Lucca” stands out. It tells of the miraculous arrival on the Italian coast of an unmanned boat carrying an image with the face of Christ.
The legend stated that the carving was sculpted by Nicodemus, one of those who assisted in depositing Jesus in the tomb. Not being an expert sculptor, he could not achieve the desired shape for the face. Tired and disillusioned, he slept without having finished his work but, upon waking up, he found it miraculously finished at the hand of an angel. It is believed that this iconography was taken to Catalonia by Italian soldiers who arrived in 1114 to help the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer III, in his conquest of the Balearics. For this reason, in Romanesque Catalonia it was a very well known and venerated image. The first miniature of the sumptuous manuscript, preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library, shows a man and a woman kneeling before the image, without doubt the noble owners of the beautiful codex.