The church of Saint Justus and Pastor is only, in appearance, a beautiful Gothic temple that stands in the corner of the beautiful Plaza de Sant Justo, in the middle of the beautiful old part of Barcelona. And that is more than enough! But the place, often forgotten by tourists, keeps several keys of the most remote Barcelona; a lot of unique stories and enigmas of which, apparently, we have barely begun to scratch the surface.
The construction of the current church began in the fourteenth century and is the last Gothic style building built in the city. Although much, much earlier, in the same place, there was another Temple that perhaps was the first place dedicated to Christian worship in the area and where, who knows, the remains of some martyrs were buried.
But it is complicated to speak about that with certainty. That’s history for you!
What we know for sure is that the original church was rebuilt in the year 801, according to the trends of the moment, by order of the Frankish King Louis the Pious, a son of Charlemagne, who came over these parts of the world, conquering whatever he could.
However, the most strange story of this place has to do with the condition of the oath church that it held since the 9th century. Only three other churches in Spain can boast something similar: San Isidoro in Leon, San Vincente in Avila and Santa Gadea in Burgos, which probably sounds familiar from the famous oath of El Cid.
The fact is that this is why in here, three very rare privileges were exercised:
1) According to the first one, when two gentlemen had to solve litigation, and before they started killing each other with axes, swords and the rest, they committed themselves to fight cleanly, without using witchcraft, magic swords or enchanted armours. This way, only the approval of God would count in the final victory, who knew without a doubt which of the two gentlemen was right. However, we think, that it was better to have a well-sized sword for sure.
2) For the second privilege, the church of Saint Justus gave value to the testimony of a Jew when necessary, in litigation between Christians only if the witness came here and swore to tell the truth before this altar. Otherwise, his word was useless.
3) The third, on the other hand, also gave validity to a testimony. In this case, that of the person who had heard the last will of a dying person and manifested it in the temple, swearing to tell the truth in the company of a notary who took note of it.
The funny thing is that this privilege was in force until 1991 when they repealed it for being anachronistic and obsolete. Come on… you can say it; they took their time…!