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While in the midst of a routine restoration of an 18th-century crucifix, a team of Spanish restorers found a hidden compartment behind the body of Christ, where the corpus connected to the cross. Inside they found two pieces of paper, yellowed and curled from time, and covered in the handwriting of a Catholic chaplain, Joaquín Mínguez.
The sculpture, called “Cristo del Miserere,” belongs to the Church of Santa Águeda in Sotillo de la Ribera, Spain, where it has hung since shortly after its creation in 1777. Mínguez wrote about the sculptor who created the work, Manuel Bal, and described him as “natural scholar of San Bernardo de Yagüe and neighbor in Campillo, both of this Bishopric of Osma.”
Mínguez also cites various events of the time, and names the Aldermen of King Charles III (who reigned from 1759-1788). He makes mention of crops that were cultivated in the region, including harvests of wheat, rye, barley, and oats. He made a special reference to wine from the Aranda region, saying “its harvest is very numerous for many years, so much that in this time it has been seen, for not taking in the cellars, spilling much wine.” The chaplain describes common blights of the time, namely malaria and typhoid fever, while describing popular forms of entertainment, such “cards, ball, bald, bar and other puerile [i.e. silly] games.”