One of the most beautiful sights at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as the Barcelona Cathedral, is the Gothic cloister secluded inside.
Construction of the cloister was completed in 1448, complete with its own side altars, side chapels, and an enclosed garden with palm and orange trees. At the heart of the cloister lies the Font de les Oques, a large pond with a central fountain.
However, perhaps the best sight within the 500+ year old cloister isn’t the amazing Gothic architecture or ornate garden, but 13 white geese who make their home in the pond and whose cackling can be heard throughout the cathedral. (Font de les Oques of course meaning Fountain of the Geese.)
Why 13 geese?
The answer goes back to the complete name of the cathedral, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia.
Saint Eulalia is the patron of Barcelona who suffered persecution for her Faith under the reign of Diocletian. When Eulalia confronted the Roman governor sent to Barcelona for enforcing the the emperor’s decrees, she was stripped, flogged, and tortured in attempts to have her renounce her Faith.
At the age of 13, hence 13 geese, Eulalia suffered martyrdom on a saltire cross. When she was decapitated, a dove flew forth from her mouth. It said after her death, a sudden snowstorm covered her mostly nude body like a garment, hence white geese.
Eulalia is commemorated with many statues and street names throughout Barcelona. For example, the street named Baixada de Santa Eulàlia meaning Saint Eulalia’s descent, comes from a pious tradition that she was placed in a barrel with shards of glass and rolled down the street.