The Sibyl, intangible heritage

The Sibyl, intangible heritage © Joan Ferrà

The Song of the Sibyl announces the final judgment in the celebration of the birth of the son of God as a human. This liturgical song became popular as a tradition in some cathedrals in southern Europe (France, Italy, Portugal and Spain). The tradition reached the island during the Conquest of Mallorca (1229) by the Kingdom of Aragon. The first written mention of it is in the Consueta de Tempore of the cathedral of Mallorca, written in Latin between 1360 and 1363.

In the 15th century it began to be performed at the Maitines de Navidad and could be sung in Latin or old Mallorcan. It was sung by a child dressed as a maid and carrying a sword. In the sixteenth century Monsignor Joan Font wrote it as part of the Consueta de la Sagristía, totally in Mallorcan (Catalan dialect of Mallorca); there is also another document from the same period in the Cathedral of Barcelona, written in Catalan.