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Arroyo de San Serván (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Arroyo de San Serván - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020

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Presentation of Arroyo de San Serván

The municipality of Arroyo de San Serván (4,107 inhabitants in 2019; 5,010 ha; municipal website) is located 60 km east of Badajoz and 25 km south-east of Montijo.

Arroyo de San Serván was alreasy settled in the Middle Paleolithic, as evidenced by rock paintings first reported in 1783 by the Count of Floridablanca; all paintings were designed in ocher, ocher red and red colors, moist probably obtained from hematite commonly fond in the area. The size of the figures ranks from 1 to 60 cm.
Remaions from the Visigothic period are an engraved stone dated 505 and the Cubillana monastery, whose baptismal font is now kept in the Soledad chapel. This monastery, once of great significance, was the cradle of education and culture in Lusitania; several civil servants and scholars were educated there. Abbot Renovado was appointed Bishop of Mérida. The tradition reports that King Rodrigo withdrew in the monastery after the lost battle of Guadalete, July 711; the "History of Visigothic Spain" another source, however, reports that Rodrigo was killed during the battle. The Cubillana chapel was erected, allegedly, at the end of the 15th century, on the site of the former Visigothic basilica.

After the reconquest of Mérida and Badajoz by Alfonso IX, the Order of Saint James was commissioned to re-settle the area. Perales was established near the old Carthaginian road around a small chapel dedicated to a small Romanesque statue of the Virgin, kept until today. The Arroyo hamlet was established on the banks of brook (arroyo) Tripero, crossed by a stone bridge. A small hamlet was also established on the site of the monastery of Cubillana.
The samll number of inhabitants of the three hamlets prompted Lorenzo Suá:rez de Figueroa, Master of the Order of Saint James, to group all of them in 1385 in Arroyo, placed under the rule of Mérida.

Among the richest hamlets of Mérida in the 16th century, Arroyo initiated in 1592 the process of municipal independence; Arroyo was granted the status of villa on 19 July 1599 by Philip III and renamed from Arroyo de Mérida to Arroyo de San Serván de la Sierra. The name was shortened to Arroyo de San Serván in the 18th century.
In 1729, the heir of the Spanish crown, Ferdinand VI, married with Infante of Portugal, María Barbára de Braganza, and Infante of Spain María Ana Victoria married the son of King John V of Portugal. The Spanish monarchs, Philip V and Isabel Farnese, Prince Ferdinand, Princess María Ana Victoria, Infante Charles (subsequently, Charles III) and Infante Philip (subsequently, King of Parma and of the Two Sicilies) headed to Badajoz. Since Mérida experienced an epidemic of black plague, the court overnighted in Arroyo.

Arroyo de San Serván is the birth place of María Cerrato Rodríguez (1897-1981)), the first woman in Spain and the third in Europe to graduate as a veterinary. To study, she had to obtained in 1923 a special permission from the Ministry of Public Education, since women were not allowed to study veterinary science at the time. In May 1924, she joined the Córdoba Veterinary Special School, the cradle of vetrinary sience in Spain. María Cerrato Rodríguez graduated on 6 June 1925. She subsequently worked as Veterinary Municipal Inspector in Calamonte, until her retirement in 1967.
[El Día de Córdoba, 27 Novmeber 2016]

Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020

Flag of Arroyo de San Serván

The flag of Arroyo de San Serván, adopted on 29 January 1998 by the Municipal Council and validated on 5 October 1998 and 16 October 1999 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, is prescribed by an Order issued on 26 November 1999 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 16 December 1999 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 147, pp. 9,384-9,385 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Composed of three equal horizontal stripes, the upper, green, the central, white, and the lower, red.

The flag in actual use (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is charged with the municipal coat of arms.

The coat of arms of Arroyo de San Serván, adopted on 29 January 1998 by the Municipal Council and validated on 5 October 1998 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order issued on 23 October 1998 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 3 November 1998 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 126, p. 8,013 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Argent two saints clad with a tunica gules standing on a base vert. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The symbols are supported by a memoir submitted on 20 December 1997 by Tomás Rodríguez Peñas.
The Sigillography section of the National Historical Archives keeps a letter sent on 20 March 1878 to the Civil Governor of the Province of Badajoz, stating tht "In compliance with your Order from the 14 of this month, we offer to you two copies of the sole seal that ever existed and is currently used by the Municipality, as well as the historical notice on its origin". The seal features two clad saints standing on a base, with the usual writing, "Alcaldía Constitucional de Arroyo de San Serván". Accordingly, Arroyo de San Serván once used proper arms, which require "rehabilitation".
The saints are Servandus (Servando / Serván) and Germanus (Germán), possibly two Roman soldiers that withdrew as ermits in the mountains and were beheaded in Cádiz. They are clad gules, the color of martyrs, and placed on a field argent as a symbol of purity.
[Old municipal website]

According to Passio Seruandi et Germani, Servandus and Germanus were jailed and tortured in Mérida, probably at the end of the Aurelian persecution (270-274); other sources place the martyr during the Dioceltian persecution (284-305). Anyway, they were executed in in a placed called fundus Vrsianus, part of the conventus Gaditanus (Cádiz). Written four centuries after the event, the record has often been considered as the fruit of the hagiographer's imagination, as were the passions of other local saints, Eulalia, Justa and Rufina, Emeterio and Celedonio. Since the 17th century, Passio Seruandi et Germani has been excluded from historical records and considered as purely fictitious.
However, the cult of the saints might be based on some historical events and the fictitious record might content some real facts. The place called fundus Vrsianus existed at the alleged martyr's time and also when the passion was redacted by a scholar with good knowledge of the area. The actual place of the martyr has been a matter of debates among historians, who have proposed Cádiz, Mérida, Córdoba or Osuna.
In the aftermath of the sack of Cádiz in 1596 by an Anglo-Dutch fleet, the religious authorities aired that Servandus and Germanus, the town's patron saonts, had been murdered in the Cádiz island so that the population of the town felt more protected. The León island (San Fernando) was proposed as an alternative place of martyr.
Joaquín Pascual Barea recently proposed that Vrsianus corresponds to Ojén, then the site of a farm crossed by the Roman road from Mérida to Algeciras.
[Joaquín Pascual Barea. 2018. Ubicación en el valle de Ojén (Cádiz) del fvndvs Vrsianvs donde fueron ejecutados los mártires Servando y Germán. Habis 49, 233-248]

Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020