Another cholera cure

… and a brief note on Catalonia’s contribution to popular culture.

Maybe it’s because rosemary doesn’t grow on the soil found on this walk, or maybe it’s because this cure was simply crap, but up around Vic cholera outbreaks tended to be cleared up by divine intervention. So it was in the parish of Gurb, where the 1885 epidemic only died down after prayers were offered to Sant Roc. The events are recorded on panels in the commemorative chapel built in the immediate aftermath, and Gurbians go up to the chapel annually in solemn procession to relive the terror of those times. There they drink an immoderate number of pina coladas and then writhe around on the ground like doomed cholera victims, all the while chanting savage melodies to a rhythmic accompaniment. This is referred to as roc i rol and, surprisingly, receives support in a little-known pamphlet written by the conservative regionalist bishop of Vic, Josep Torras i Bages. Musica in ecclesia (Les Cabanyes del Penedès, 1888) was republished in Los Angeles in 1967 in English translation with a rather more interesting cover under the title I was a tranny nightclub danceress for Opus Dei.

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