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Corvey 'Adopt an Author'

Sarah Green

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University


Synopsis of The Festival of St. Jago (1810) by Sarah Green


Don Lopez, a handsome Cavaliero attends the mass at the Santo Spirito Church for the festival of St. Jago, the patron saint of Spain. His younger brother, Don Antonio de Benvoglio and their mother Donna Elvira accompany him. Both brothers are noble and popular gentlemen, yet the selfish and greedy behaviour of Don Lopez contrasts with the honest and gentle character of Antonio, which has resulted in a bitter hatred between them both. At the service, Lopez notices a heavily guarded lady, dressed in a black disguise. He is intrigued by her mysterious appearance and follows her to a ruinous castle where she seemingly disappears from sight. He receives a warning about the dangers within the castle, yet he returns later to seek this intriguing lady. However, he is captured and imprisoned within the castle, and kept under the watchful eye of the tyrant, Pedro.

Meanwhile, the avaricious and manipulative Donna Lauretta d’Alzores puts her friend Elvira under pressure in Lopez’s absence. At their children’s birth many years ago, Lauretta forced Elvira to promise that their two children would eventually marry, allowing Lauretta access to the Benvoglio’s wealth. Previously she has manipulated and had relations with both brothers in an attempt to gain some of their inheritance, and she now uses her daughter Aurora to form a union with the Benvoglio family. However, Elvira receives a letter informing her of Lopez’s imprisonment, destroying Lauretta’s plans of a forthcoming wedding. Elvira seeks comfort in Aurora and they develop a close friendship, much to the disgust of Lauretta.

Inside the castle, Donna Leonora Gusman is also held captive. Many years ago, Don Gusman, Leonora’s husband discovered his wife in the arms of her lover (a result of the devious plots of her old friend, Lauretta d’Alzores). Leonora’s punishment was to be held captive in the isolated castle, separated from her daughter Estifania, who lives in the nearby surrounding forest with her faithful nursemaid, Inesilla. Both mother and daughter believe Don Gusman to be dead.

Through an incident of fate, Estifania meets a young man named Sebastian d’Alzores. She nurses him back to health after he suffers a fall from his horse and they immediately both fall in love with one another. However, Estifania is soon taken to the castle and Sebastian is warned away, but they arrange to meet in secret every year, on the night of the festival of St. Jago.

Some time later, Elvira, Lauretta and Aurora are passing through the forest and are also captured and taken to the castle. Now all three families are held within the walls of the ruinous castle, in the hands of Pedro.

Whilst exploring the castle Lopez witnesses the marriage between Estifania and Sebastian, who has managed to sneak into the castle to save his love, but Lopez recognises him to be his own brother, Antonio. He bursts in and their true identities are revealed. The nursemaid Inesilla is reunited with her husband, Elcarzo, who has been working for Don Gusman at the castle for a number of years, under the alias of Garcias. Both presumed that the other was dead.

The close relationship between Elvira and Aurora is explained as Lauretta announces that she switched their children at birth. Lauretta’s true child died shortly after, and to avoid suspicion he was replaced with Lopez, the son of a local maid. Lauretta disappears to find her old rival, Leonora, and tries to poison her, but Gusman suddenly appears and saves his wife. He explains that he has been secretly living in the subterranean passages of the castle, and the couple are reunited as he forgives Leonora for her previous infidelity.

Estifania and Sebastian remain happily married, Lopez and Aurora wed, whilst Lauretta and Pedro repent their sinful actions and spend the remainder of their lives in religious confinement.

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