PROCESSION. Images of Ciriaco and Paula are carried through the streets in June. / SUR
As the fair has just given us an excuse to celebrate all things ‘Malagueño’, it seems only fitting that the city’s patron saints, Ciriaco and Paula, should take their turn in the limelight.
These bright young things were faithful members of the flourishing Christian community in the Malaga area during the fourth century AD. However, Roman emperors Dioclecian and Maximian soon put a stop to that during the ‘tenth persecution’ they ordered; one of the many attempts to purge the Empire of Christians.
Paula and Ciriaco were captured and tortured in a bid to force them to renounce their faith and recognise the pagan gods. When they refused, they were sentenced to death by stoning; the two were tied to trees along the bank of the river Guadalmedina, where today we have the Paseo de los Martiricos. After they had died, there was a sudden miraculous downpour which prevented the saints’ bodies from being burned, allowing their fellow Christians to take them away to be buried.
In 1490 the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, appointed Ciriaco and Paula as the patron saints of Malaga and incorporated them into the city’s coat of arms in 1494.
These saints are present all over the city; several streets are named after them and they also appear on alterpieces and façades in the cathedral. As a date for your diary, their feast day is 18th June (the date they were martyred). In 1986 this feast day was no longer seen to merit a day off work for Malagueños, but traditional images of the saints are still paraded through the streets in their honour.