San Genarín

18 04 2011

Probably one of the more unique stories in the Spanish speaking world during Holy Week, this is a procession done on the night of Holy Thursday in commemoration of the tragic death of one of Leon’s most infamous clients of the bars and whorehouses there, Genaro Blanco Blanco, later known as San Genarín. At dawn on Holy Thursday, 1929, while completely drunk, Genaro was hit by the first garbage truck of the day while relieving himself on a wall. A few of his friends (later known as the “Evangelists) deeply appreciative of having known this bon vivant and figure on the bohemian scene of Leon, decided to have their own procession the next Holy Thursday, 1930, in which they went to all of the bars and whorehouses that Genaro once frequented. The legend then grew to include miracles attributed to “San Genarín”, such as a person being cured of a kidney ailment and a miraculous goal for the home team in an important game. The numbers in the annual procession grew until 1957, when it was banned by the fascist authorities, some say because it had more participants than the religious one.

After a twenty year hiatus, the processions began again, and continue to this day. They are complete with torches, statues of the people involved in the historical events, couplets celebrating the life of the “saint”, and offerings at the site of death. It is perhaps the only example that I know of where militant secularists have their own procession to rival the Catholic ones of Holy Week.