The Christ of the Knives

The Christ of the Knives

De capa y espada” we could call the following legend that we offer in these pages, El Cristo de las Cuchilladas (The Christ of the Knives). A very well known and loved by the Toledans, which took place (or not) in the very heart of the city, during a turbulent period of confrontation between families.

The Christ of the KnivesThe year 1467 runs, and Henry IV was reigning in Castile “The Impotent”, not because of his supposed inability to engender heir to the Crown, but because of the chaos that dominated his lands, as families of high nobility fought unceasingly for royal power.

The nobles have been divided;
and abandoned is the scepter;
for of the King they try, and then;
Weapons speak for them.”

In the city of Toledo, two noble families face each other: the Silva family, the standard-bearers of new Christians or converts, and the Ayala family, belonging to old Christians.

” There is no safe shed<br />
nor alley in which at least;
with no soul left any Silva<br />
or some Ayala is dead.

In the neighbourhood of San Justo, in a noble house, Isabel awaits the visit of her beloved: Don Diego de Ayala. A few steps she hears and runs to unlock the gate that closes the house… It’s not Don Diego, but men who hold the young woman tightly. For several days now they have been planning how to kidnap the fiancée of an Ayala, and on the chosen night they come to carry out their misdeed.

Meanwhile, Don Diego approaches Isabel’s house, passing through San Justo square and stopping as a good Christian under the figure of Cristo de la Misericordia (Christ of Mercy) that is there.

“… of a gentleman who faithful, <br />
will be Don Diego de Ayala;
who has pride and for gala,br
surrender to Doña Isabel

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But when he was immersed in his brief prayer Don Diego heard cries of woman and great scandal coming from the route that was about to continue and, turning a corner appear in the square several masked men who carry a woman gagged.

Diego, save me!
You! -She replied, “And being She;
the one defended by him.

Diego draws the indignant sword in defense of that maiden and with an accurate blow of his noble Toledo steel he knocks down one of the captors and approaches the lady, seeing with great surprise that it was indeed his fiancée.

They harass him, fast, ten;
To all at bay he has,<br/>
and against all maintains
his arrogant intrepidity.”

The Christ of the Knives

Photo: “garrofa2000” (on

The clash of steels resonates in the Plaza de San Justo. The night in Toledo covers with its darkness, barely illuminated by the moon and the lantern under the Christ the hard confrontation that takes place between Don Diego de Ayala and the Silva. Before the great number of attackers, Diego feels faint and barely manages to protect his life and that of Doña Isabel.

” In lightning the sword<br />
with the opposites crosses, <br/>
and more it seems that aguza<br />
its cutting edge every stroke.”

The Christ of the Knives Swordsman’s fight in Toledo

Wounded, already cornered, he rests his back on the fierce struggle on the wall of the Church of San Justo, protecting Doña Isabel, and on looking up he asks the Christ who was not far away to save at least the life of his fiancée.

” Behind it rests on the wall

Little by little, it’s in the corner.

For as many as are

is the safest place!”

” But go for his bad star

that defeat you fixed,

and then: Lord -it was said-

If not me, save her!”

At this very moment, the walls of the Church were opened, engulfing Don Diego and Isabel inside the temple, and then closing as if it were a wooden door. The kidnappers remained motionless, not knowing very well what had happened…

” And the wall opened quickly

snatching both of them.”

After the initial surprise, blind men of anger hit the wall with their swords, up to a hundred knives that remained in the hard stone.

Not content with the loss of Don Diego, the Silva family rushed to the door of the Church, which they found closed and tried to open with all their strength.

But a new fact came to save again the lives of Doña Isabel and Don Diego, who inside the temple were praying for their lives… The church bells began to ring so loudly that many of the neighbors of the neighborhood came out to the Plaza for fear that the Church was under fire. The Silva, seeing the large crowd of people approaching them, fled as fast as they could, rather already frightened by the strangeness of that night.

” And the one who used to be “The Christ of Mercy”,

of divine invocation for his divine deeds,

since that night and in memory of all,

“the one with the knives,” they call him in Toledo!…”

Legend The Christ of the Knives written in free version.

Extracts in verse from the poem by Federico de Mendizábal (Published in “Leyendas de Toledo, Antología”, by Luis Moreno Nieto)

Illustration: “Toledo, ciudad de Leyenda” – Toledo Restoration Workshop School, placed in streets of Toledo related to the legends mentioned. Sponsored by: Convenio Culturel Toledo.

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