Carlos Fernandez

The jewel of León

«El maragato en la torre y en la plaza el negrillón» is the verse of a song that my mother used to sing frequently during the summers that we spent in the house of my grandparents in Vegaquemada during my childhood. My mother, Rosario, and her brothers Cinia, Teya, Cesáreo, Luis, Pablo and Paulina were born there. This song refers to Boñar, a village located just 6 kilometers away from my grandparents’ house where the Church of St. Pedro is. Its tower has a wooden human figure known as «El maragato” (settler of León) while in the square in front of the Church there was a leafy Negrillón (elm tree).

León, its Virgen del Camino, its Cathedral, its landscapes, its towns, its city, its people, its gastronomy… all these have been important elements of my life as a child and even now, many summers later.

Mr. Mario González, administrator of León’s Cathedral, asked me at the beginning of the year to prepare a letter to explain why CEPA Foundation has agreed to help in one of the most important restorations of the stained glass windows in recent years.

Thinking about it a lot, the truth is that I could not answer this question if I do not link part of the Cathedral’s history to that of my own Leonese family, which is why I started this writing referring to Boñar; an emblematic town from which they were extracted the stones that served to raise the walls and to lay the foundations of what would become a magnificent Cathedral. A Cathedral that became the first National Religious Monument benefited by royal order in 1844 due to its great relevance through the centuries allowing its restoration and conservation on behalf of the Spanish State.

Although it is true that León’s Cathedral has three rose windows, it is the one of the main façade the one that will be restored with the financial support from CEPA Foundation. This rose window had already been treated in the mid-19th Century after having been detected deep affectations on it.

Many times I heard at home about the philanthropic spirit of Mr. Pablo Diez Fernández —the brother of my maternal grandmother— and about the support he offered to schools, hospitals, orphanages and, especially, to the Virgen del Camino. A social work that had its continuity with the participation of Mr. Antonino and Mrs. Cinia, Mr. Pablo’s niece.

A few years ago, Mr. Cesáreo and Mr. Pablo González Diez created CEPA González Diez Foundation, inviting me to preside it over and whose main purpose is to help, to carry out and to promote different welfare, cultural, educational and social activities with the aim to promote the human and personal development as well as the cultural and intellectual development of people.

The altruistic and philanthropic spirit of the family is still present through several works in Spain and México. Specially in León, where CEPA Foundation gladly contributes to the refurbishing of the Cathedral’s rose window while developing several activities together with other institutions.

It was in November 2018 when Mr. Cesáreo and the Foundation’s board asked to visit León’s Cathedral in order to see firsthand the restoration works. At the moment we were are at the top of the Cathedral admiring its singular architecture under an angle completely different from the one we had previously had, we found a special meaning behind each column, each wall, each engraving, each stained glass window… It was as if the same building communicates us proudly of what was made and what was the reason to be there.

We were amazed by its magnitude, imagining that great restoration made more than a century ago that helped to keep it firm and symbolic. The strength of Mr. Cesáreo also amazed us. His 95 years old did not prevent him from climbing all the steps that lead to the upper part of the central vault from where he said in a deep voice: «This is the jewel of León».

Looking closely at the rose window one appreciates the great work to which the stained glass windows will be subjected. The rays, the angels and the central medallion with the image of the Virgin and the Child stand out in the stained glass window. A singular work of art that has been witness of the history of Castile, of León and therefore of Spain.

It is a privilege to be part of this significant work that will allow future generations to value even more one of the most impressive places that honor the Virgin and the Creator.


– Carlos Fernández –

Presidente de la Fundación CEPA