He is known to be a priest, he liked hunting, beer, roosters, and he had as much faith in God as in hypnosis and magic. Of her, who was her maid, who made the food and sewed the clothes. About the two, who were lovers who learned to love each other without being seen in a remote Galician village at the beginning of the 20th century.
The protagonists of this furtive love exchanged passionate letters, accomplices, risked, disgusted, full of reproaches and accusations, until one day they were face to face with reality: he was already committed. The collar collapsed like a rope. The lovers stretched what they could a fiction, a lie, which one day suddenly woke up.
The correspondence between the two has remained forgotten in the bottom of a trunk until a great-granddaughter of a brother of the parish priest, Marita Fernández Graña, a Latin teacher, bothered to read it a century later. She has been in charge of rescuing this story, now that all the witnesses have been silent.
His name was José María Graña Couce and he was around 50 when he met a passion that would make him sleepless nights. He fell surrendered to the young woman who cleaned the rectory house of Noguerosa, in A Coruña. Her name is a mystery. The lovers were careful not to leave it in writing.
"Appreciable and most esteemed wife," he writes without any qualms in the early twenties. He asks him to bring milk to his house and in the meantime he stays for the weekend. He suggests that he make an excuse in his house, as he has to "fix" some chorizos and go over clothes. Top the letter with "kisses and hugs of your husband".
She tells that she has gone to the doctor and he has told her that she is not pregnant, that she only has "blood disgusted". A three-day delay in menstruation had alarmed them. She takes the opportunity to reproach him: "It is very strange to me to say that we are married and that we are not together, I can be otherwise, because all the boyfriends that I had are getting married, so if it were not so I could have boyfriend but it seems that we have to settle this way ".
The priest makes him see that they have a firm commitment of husbands. He emphasizes that he owes him fidelity and brings out the nickname of a suitor of her, the Galician, which the priest will refer to later as "the scoundrel". The competition reveals: "A few nights ago you did not let me sleep at all".
In this era without Tinder, the young men who courted the servants were allowed to appear on Wednesdays at their homes. They chatted through the door shutter, as a physical barrier to avoid suspicion. The priest, from the window, spied on those interested in his beloved. Then he wrote wounded: "Do you talk to him to marty me?"
Although less intense, she is also bitten by jealousy. The priest's house gives him a lot of work. You have to clean china, coffee sets made of china, glassware. Among the bedding she finds two quilts, when before she only had one, the one that she had embroidered on her. "Where does it come from?" He asks, and takes the opportunity to tell him that he hears rumors about his reputation as a womanizer.
In those years the priest has a broad social life. It organizes hunts to which it invites to the most outstanding personages of the region. Cures of other parishes, gentlemen, mayors. In a lithograph signed by Jesito, a teacher friend whose self-portrait forms part of the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts of A Coruña, he poses proudly with a shotgun, his left arm in a jar, his right hand holding the gun barrel. A hat protects you from the sun. The neck collar adjusted to the throat. From the bag hangs a good sized rabbit. At that precise moment the world is yours.
After the monterías he serves wine and cooked at home. A Gatsby from a Galician village. The parties last until late at night. The small cultural elite of the place, reader of Joyce and Pound, composed of village poets, school teachers, painters, doctors, also respects the authority of the priest and is seen in the feasts. It is impossible to know what boils in a man inside but, judging from the outside, Father Graña enjoys the life that has touched him.
The mountain of documentation left by the priest after his passage through this life was compiled by his heirs, who kept it in the drawers of the wooden desk on which the priest wrote his correspondence. The furniture remained stored in the attic of a stone house in Monfero, a town in the interior of A Coruña.
There he remained forgotten until Marita Fernández, together with two of his sisters, restored the building to turn it into the Casa Graña da Acea, a rural tourism accommodation. The priest's desk is now part of the decoration of the place. On the walls there are several portraits of his, in the sight of clients who do not imagine that they are before a priest of turbulent life, who had to choose between religious vocation and carnal love. And he chose the middle path, just the one that did not take him anywhere.
The truth is that it was an atypical cure. The proximity of the monastery of Caaveiro, in the Fragas de Eume, where the monks prayed and led a simple life for centuries, did not produce any spell in him. I loved public life, alcohol, parties with friends. He did not want to be a saint, and there is enough documentation that proves that he achieved his purpose.
He shied away from spirituality but he loved the esoteric. In letters he received in 1913 from the Academy of Occult Sciences of Paris, chaired by Professor J. Catala, it is revealed that he is interested in something more than listening to secrets in the confessional. The academy sends you a "flower of love" that you should wear on the side of your heart and think a lot about who you want. To turn the parish house into a nest of love could use a powder called Incense of the Magi, which, according to publicity, drives away evil spirits and creates environments of peace, happiness and good luck.
An anonymous third person intrudes on the correspondence of the lovers. "Don José, I have to talk to you about a secret thing alone," writes a neighbor, Consuelo Piñeiro. He tells him to choose where he can be seen and a very clear warning: "Do not tell your girl anything."
Maybe it was a preview of what is about to happen. The bubble of lovers broke out in February 1921. The parish priest of Betanzos, a nearby place, wrote to alert him that the neighbors are scandalized by the "illicit treatment" he has with a young woman. "In the hands of the neighbors, there are obscene letters from you and that woman and from her to you, for God's sake, if it is true what they denounce, try to avoid it, and if it is not, try not to talk to her alone and walk Be careful, they watch you and threaten you with serious annoyances, "he warns.
Graña did not take it for granted. It is corresponded with the editorial Mateos, which has offices in Spain, America and the Philippines. In his catalog there are titles as suggestive as Physiology of physical love, History of prostitution or Only for men and married. But Graña is infatuated with Marriage and wedding night, for which he pays 3 pesetas. It is, according to the catalog, an exhibition of transcendental episodes of life as a couple, from passion to boredom and infidelity.
It is not your only distraction. Learn how to make homemade beer with a manual that you send by mail. It is written with breeders of breed chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits. Pay religiously your subscription to the magazine The modern Cultivator. From a remote village, Graña sent smoke signals to the whole world.
He ended up enrolled in politics through the agricultural union Santa Eteria, promoted by the Church in rural areas to monopolize the conservative vote. In the homilies he brings out his talent as a speaker. In July 1919, he said in mass, according to a draft: "You can say very loudly that caciquismo is over, whoever exercises it, you are free to give the vote to whomever you please. challenge the honest people, down the traitors, discover your forehead, do not be rams, flee from the wolf who comes disguised in sheep's clothing. "
In the letters with her beloved there are also reproaches, complaints, paragraphs full of misunderstandings that in some way convey that the relationship walks towards the precipice. She releases a bomb in early 1924: she is thinking of going to live in Madrid. Father Graña insists that if it is for money, he does not owe anything to him and that everything he has lent him does not have to be returned.
She does not attend to reasons. He writes: "In this house, who was born to be a donkey must be always How many nights I spend without dinner because of the rages they give me? These messes are the causes of my illness and will be my death if I do not leave."
The parish priest tries to dissuade her: "Keep in mind that it is not the same to be in the parents' house, even if there are dislikes, to win it among strangers to eat and if there is any illness to go to the hospital". In a blind alley, the worst of it arises: "What I see is that you have to become a woman of four letters." And she takes out her inquisitive profile, encouraging her to confess frequently and take out everything that is hidden, "doing a well done and stopped exam". "Despite being so harsh, you will understand that I want your salvation, happy journey and God enlighten you," he says goodbye.
In drafts writes with the guts paragraphs that we do not know if they came into her hands. "I also do not admit crocodile tears, which is quiet and peaceful until the time comes to make theirs." Another phrase released in those papers: "I also do not accept fake kisses, since Judas before selling the divine master just gave him a kiss". Now annoyed: "For my sake you can calm down and go where your bad head inclines you".
Nineteen days before the train that will take her to Madrid leaves, she sends her last letter: "I must tell her that for me she does not wait or pity. [para reemplazarla]. For me you can come 20. Do you know what they say? That has to bring 20 girls and none has to stop ".
The father Graña, anguished, gives sticks of blind. There are compliments and snares in equal parts. She says that now she understands that the child she thought she could hope for could be anyone, which does not prevent her from going to keep the portrait of her as gold in cloth. Little by little, he says, he will undo the marks of the clothes in which the initials of the two appear, like the fake marriage they were.
The end is near. One of the last phrases written by the priest: "It may happen that one day I am alone at home burn everything you have done and given me to not have memories that torment me." Father Graña died of a heart attack a few months later, on November 11, 1924.