Pedro Ginesta was over 80 years old. In the year 1635, Pedro still worked, at such an advanced age, as a brazier (a person who works brass). Pedro suddenly found himself apprehended by the “Holy” Inquisition in Spain. His crime: Eating meat on the eve of St. Bartholomew’s day.
In the Royal Palace of the Inquisition of Barcelona, it was ordered that Pedro Ginesta be transferred “to the secret prison of this palace of the Inquisition.”
Witnesses were summoned. Joan Compte testified he had seen, in a tavern, “a man, by occupation a brazier, which person was well known to the deponent…” There, he had seen the man “eating soup, which, being despatched, deponent saw the said person empty an earthen dish of bacon and onions into a frying pan…” The man, presumably Pedro Ginesta, had been advised it was the eve of the fast of St. Bartholomew and eating meat at that time was forbidden. Nonetheless, the presumed Pedro did “eat the said bacon and onions, a small portion of which was observed to remain in the dish.”
Geronima Aymara testified that, in her tavern, an old man, by occupation brazier, was not seen by her to actually eat the bacon and onions. Nevertheless, while clearing the table, she had seen that “there was left a bit of the bacon and a few mouthfuls of the onions…”
Geronima’s husband substantiated the testimony of his wife.
The above, as well as other sworn testimony, had convinced the Inquisitors that Pedro Ginesta must be put in the secret prison of the Inquisition, and entrusted to the care of “P. Fontanella, Alcayde of the said prison…”
On September 18, 1635, Pedro Ginesta was summoned from his cell to respond to the charge, about which he had no idea. “Do you, Pedro Ginesta, know or guess the cause of your imprisonment?” the Inquisitors asked. Pedro answered by “falling on his knees, weeping, and beating his breast, that he had committed an offence against our Lord by eating bacon on the eve of St. Bartholomew…” Pedro said he had forgotten it was the eve of St. Bartholomew and had innocently eaten the bacon and onions.
The next day, the Inquisitors again examined Pedro Ginesta. They asked if Pedro had anything further to confess. He told them he had nothing else to confess. Upon this, Pedro was sent back to his prison cell.
The next day, September 20, 1635, Pedro Ginesta was again summoned by the Spanish Inquisition. “Are you certain, Pedro, you can recall nothing else relating to this affair of the bacon and onions?” Pedro scratched his grey beard and said, “No, I can think of nothing else.” He was then told that the Promotor Fiscal (Attorney General) of the “Holy” Office had another accusation to bring. “It would be well for you, Pedro, to declare the whole truth now,” he was admonished. “If you do, the Holy Office will be inclined to extend mercy.”
And then, there immediately appeared Doctor Francisco Gregorio, Promotor Fiscal of the “Holy” Office. Pedro Ginesta had committed offenses which “savored of the heretic [Martin] Luther,” the Promotor Fiscal alleged.
Pedro Ginesta protested himself to be a loyal Catholic. Was he absolutely certain he had nothing further to confess – hmm…? “Even if I am put to the torture, I can declare nothing further,” Pedro replied.
Doctor Francisco Magrina, a priest, at this advanced stage of the proceedings, was chosen to be counsel for the defendant, Pedro Ginesta.
On October 6, 1635, Pedro was at last informed as to the specific charges against him. He was charged with eating bacon on St. Bartholomew’s eve. He was suspected of Lutheran sympathies.
Three days later, on October 9, 1635, the prisoner was brought from his cell. His defense counsel, Doctor Francisco Magrina, pleaded in Pedro’s behalf. Pedro Ginesta admitted he had indeed eaten bacon on St. Bartholomew’s eve, but did so without malice. Because Pedro is very aged, argued his defense counsel, his memory is apt to fail, “as old age is a species infirmitatis.” Thus Pedro had forgotten it was St. Bartholomew’s eve. It was admitted that Pedro was a Frenchman by birth; however he was a loyal Catholic and not in league with Martin Luther.
On October 16, 1635, at the Royal Palace of the Inquisition of Barcelona, it was ruled that Pedro Ginesta was to be “reprehended [scolded] and admonished, and forthwith released from prison.”
Pedro Ginesta was furthermore ordered, under pain of excommunication, “to observe perfect secrecy with respect to everything which had befallen him relating to his trial, and with respect to all which he had seen, heard, or learned in any manner while in prison, and not to reveal the same to any person, under any shape whatever.”
(Source: Records of the Spanish Inquisition (Translated From the Original Manuscripts). Boston: Samuel G. Goodrich, 1828)