For the second time, Don Luis Quijada saves Don John of Austria from the flames before rescuing his wife, Dona Magdalena

May 19, 2011

D. John went each day to the royal castle with all the pomp of a prince, to study and play with D. Carlos and to pay his respects to the King and the good Queen Doña Isabel de Valois, who always kept him a long time, and loaded him with attentions and invitations, to the great satisfaction of all her ladies. He also daily visited his sister, Princess Juana, and often accompanied her on her visits to churches and other holy places. This all naturally pleased the new-made prince; but when he got home and met Doña Magdalena in her room, always occupied about something for his welfare, then it was that he really opened out and showed himself the old Jeromín, loving his aunt as a very dear mother. He would sit on a cushion at Doña Magdalena’s feet, and, with his head leaning against her knee, according to his custom, would confide to her the impressions of the day, and pour out his soul with the candor and simplicity of his early years.

Painting by Philipp Jakob Loutherbourg the Younger

An unexpected catastrophe came to trouble this quiet life. On the 24th of November, a little before dawn, a peasant of Alcorcón came into the town by the gate of the Vega riding his donkey. He was frightened by the vivid light which illuminated the little square and façade of St. Mary’s, and he then saw that flames were issuing from the roof of D. John of Austria’s house….

Alarmed that no one in the house was aware of this formidable fire, the boy began to shout and to knock on the door, crying out “Fire! Fire! Wake up.”

They all woke up terrified, and Quijada, as years before at Villagarcia, ran to save Don John of Austria. He met him getting out of bed and hastening to help Doña Magdalena, but without taking any account of his cries and efforts to run to the room of his aunt, Quijada took him in his arms, dressed as he was in his shirt, and going into the street, deposited him on the steps of St. Mary’s. Then with great calmness Quijada went back among the flames to save Doña Magdalena, and deposited her, also half dressed, beside D. John.

It is believed that this "Christ of the Battles" is the famous crucifix rescued by Luis Quejada from the Moors.

Then the fire broke out with such tremendous fury, that in spite of the house being so large, in half an hour it was an immense bonfire, and five hours later a mountain of rubbish, among which the only thing that remained standing was the wall of D. John’s bedchamber.

Hanging on this wall the famous crucifix of the Moors, saved by Luis Quijada once before from the flames, which, after D. John came to Villagarcia, Doña Magdalena had placed at the head of his bed, remained intact. This was thought to be a miracle, and it was certainly, at least, a special providence of God to save such a venerated image.

 

Ruins of the House of the Quijadas

 

Rev. Fr. Luis Coloma, The Story of Don John of Austria, trans. Lady Moreton, (New York: John Lane Company, 1912), pp. 104-105.

 

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 76

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