The Flies of Sant Narcís

he most characteristic legend in Girona is probably that of the flies of Sant Narcís. Whilst other towns have dragons, eagles and lions appearing in their legends, the people of Girona glorify a small domestic insect, somewhat annoying but something we are all used to seeing at home: the fly!

The miracle of the flies took place, so they say, in September 1286, when the army of the King of France, Philip the Fair, besieged Girona with the motive of his quarrel with King Pere of Aragon. Although the city surrendered without a fight, the French behaved abominably when they entered the city: they looted; they insulted and oppressed the people; they attacked churches mocking the religious objects and finally, profaned the incorrupt body of Sant Narcís which was kept in the collegiate church of Sant Feliu, breaking his arm. This was the last straw: huge flies started to emerge from the body, furiously biting the French soldiers and their horses. And after being bitten, the enemies died stamping their feet. This supposed event brought about a multitude of writings, sermons and legends and started the typical and topical Girona iconography which inextricably links the image of flies to that of the city.
ater on, when in 1653 the French, sent by General Plessis-Bellière and Marshal d'Hocquincourt, besieged Girona, once again the flies came out of the body of the patron saint of the city; this time, however, they only bit the horses of the besiegers causing the death of two thousand of them. The following year, in 1684, whilst the French (yes, the French!) came back yet again to besiege Girona under orders from Marshal Bellefond, the patriotic insects came back too to bite the soldiers as well as the horses, causing many deaths.

Llegendes i Misteris de Girona
Carles Vivó
Quaderns de la Revista de Girona, 24
Diputació de Girona Novembre 1989

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