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C/ Lope Nuñez, 4
05001 Ávila (Ávila)
Concejalía de Patrimonio
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El Cubo de la Mula

The stories about the lives of saints are laden with miracles since canonised saints are required to have performed miraculous tasks throughout their lives. And of course, the tradition that is handed down from one generation to the next has "decorated" these miracles with a number of myths and legends.

Pedro was born around 1088 in the area near the village of El Barco de Ávila. As he grew up, all those around him appreciated his great qualities and his goodness, qualities which, at the time, lead to life in a monastery or priesthood. And he opted for the latter.

Shortly afterwards, he was orphaned and retired to a far-off place to farm the land and plough up woody areas. He lived with as little as possible and shared out what he produced among the needy. His fame gradually spread and the bishop called him to go on some of the Church's missions.

After many years in service, he returned to his hometown and his farming activities. However, he was more than 70 years old and needed an assistant, a young boy who could help him. Something was eating away at him inside and it was that he wanted to know when he would die: he had had the experience of his parents and wanted to know when he would leave this life. And so, he made his request in prayer.

He received a reply in the form of a signal:

"You will die when the water in the spring turns into wine".

It was 1155 and, shortly after his revelation, he sent his assistant to collect water from a nearby spring. Alarmed, the boy came back with a jug full of wine. Three days later, Pedro (later known as San Pedro del Barco) died.

His miracles and saintliness were known for many miles around and several villages wanted to take his mortal remains to their churches since they awarded virtue to those who prayed next to them.

As it was the Bishop's see, Ávila asked to receive them, Barco did so as his hometown and Piedrahita as the place where his mother was born. As an agreement could not be reached, a decision was taken in which a divine hand or fortune would intervene: the remains, preserved in salt, were mounted on the back of a mule and the animal was taken to one of the roads around the village of Barco. It was then released.

Despite the fact that it was near to the village of Barco, the mule started walking eastwards along the road that led to Piedrahita. However, when it reached the village, it continued firmly on its way, despite the fact that many people came out to ask it to stop there. Finally, it reached Ávila and went into St Vincent's Basilica. At a place very near to the main altar, it stomped one of its hooves on the ground and fell down dead. All those who were present understood that the divine hand had wanted San Pedro del Barco to be buried in the church. And the mule was buried next to a turret in the walls.

San Pedro del Barco is highly respected in his hometown, where a shrine was built on the site of the house in which he was born. The hoof print has been conserved near the altar in St Vincent's Basilica and the turret of the walls that forms the corner that faces the church has been given the name of the Turret of La Mula (Mule). There is also a Celtiberian animal sculpture there whose forehead also points at the church.

If all that is legend, it all works out well!

Church of San Pedro del Barco.

Church of San Pedro del Barco.

The allotments grown by the saint were irrigated with water from the River Tormes.

The allotments grown by the saint were irrigated with water from the River Tormes.

Vettone animal sculpture next to the Turret of La Mula.

Vettone animal sculpture next to the Turret of La Mula.