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The hermitage where Dalí got married


EstudiFGH-(CC BY-SA 3.0 es)

Daniel Esparza - published on 10/06/22

The Santuari dels Àngels is a small hermitage dedicated to Our Lady, where Dalí chose to celebrate his wedding. Only five people attended.

What might have been one of the most newsworthy events of its time was instead distinctively intimate. During the summer of 1958, in the small hermitage of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (also known as Santuari dels Àngels, in Catalan), Salvador Dalí married Helena Diakonova – his lifelong companion, better known as Gala. Only five people accompanied them: four priests and the secretary of the town’s municipal court. No relatives attended the wedding.

Francisco Vila, the priest who celebrated the wedding, was the former parish priest of Cadaqués (“the world prettiest town,” Dalí would allegedly say) and Dalí’s personal friend. After the ceremony, the couple went to the episcopal palace in Girona (the capital city of the province) and visited the bishop, who oversaw the marriage process.

The Hermitage of Our Lady of the Angels

Tradition claims that the sanctuary was built because some shepherds found an image of Our Lady in 1409 after people living in the vicinities saw some mysterious lights shining high atop Puig Alt – where the hermitage stands today. As they decided to climb the hill to find out what was going on, they found a painting of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus in her arms, flanked by angels, in what seemed to be the ruins of an old chapel or the remains of a fortification. A statue of the Virgin was also found.

The story has been interpreted as evidence of the existence of an older chapel, possibly dedicated to Mary, in the same place. Local traditions claim the ancient church would have been founded by a member of the earliest Christian community (some accounts call him either “Esteve” or “Esteban”) who fled Jerusalem right after the crucifixion of Jesus, accompanied by Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, and Martha. The four of them, tradition goes on, would have hopped on a boat, and sailed without a destination. The sea took them to Marseille, where they preached the good news of Jesus. In fact, Lazarus is considered the first bishop of Marseille.Esteve would have been mystically transported to Puig Alt.

The Santuari and the neighboring town of Madremanya offer different room and board options for pilgrims who want to stay there.

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