CEMETERY AND HERMITAGE OF LOS SANTOS MARTIRES
We have written data of the existence of the hermitage of the Santos Mártires for a long time.
The only remaining material remains are found in one of the back walls of the cemetery. It is a granite semicircular doorway, with the appearance of being very old. The site it occupies is a small hill near the village from which all the surrounding lands can be seen, especially the Camino Real, today the Autovía del Suroeste or Extremadura highway.
The landscapes that can be seen are very beautiful: with the sierras of Santa Cruz and Montánchez to the north. The pastures and fields of this plateau, just before falling into the irrigated lands of the Vegas del Guadiana to the south.
According to the information of 1791 the hermitage was located in the place where the cemetery was built, says the document:
“That there is a Hermitage of San Fabian and San Sebastian, to which it is concurred by the town the day of these Holy Martyrs, the one of San Maros, San Nicolas, and it is gone in procession zelebrando mass the days of the Martyrs and San Nicolas, and they do not know the effects that it has, nor what income; it does not have santero, nor is asked alms by tablet”, “(….) This parochial favrica has to its entrance a cemetery, that if urgency happens in its, ambit can be given ecclesiastical burial, but as the parish is capacidisima in her of burying those that die; and being nezesario the factory of this can be constructed in the Hermitage of the Santos Martires San Sevastian and San Favian, that is distant of the town about five hundred steps, well that they are indispensable not few real ones”.
The cemetery was built in 1887, with the prohibition of the custom of burying the dead in the parish church. It was enlarged in 1926. In 1891, the human remains that existed in the graves in the atrium of the parish church were transferred to the cemetery and deposited in two mass graves.
The cult of St. Sebastian has always been linked to that of St. Fabian, whose feast is celebrated on January 20. What is more difficult is to specify the time of its construction, we have documentary evidence of the existence of the chapel in the eighteenth century.
The oldest martyrologies already put their names together and together they still remain in the Litany of the Saints. The cult of Saint Sebastian is very old. It is invoked against the plague and against the enemies of religion. He is one of the most popular saints and one of those who has more images and more churches dedicated to him. He is one of the saints most reproduced by art, because as the martyrdom presents him with his torso naked and covered with arrows, the artists had more scope for action. But the beauty was above all in his soul, in his unwavering fidelity to Christ, which he preferred to all the human advantages and prestige offered by the emperor.
It should be noted that the residents of Villamesías celebrated the feast of the Holy Martyrs in gratitude for their freedom from a plague. It recurred in successive waves and as the doctors felt powerless to combat it, the neighbors turned to Sebastian and Fabian with their prayers, to eradicate it immediately and to prevent the plagues that plagued the fields.
From the village you have a nice walk, passing through the old quarter and the Charca del Tejar you can complete a tour that combines culture, heritage and nature.