History of the Mystery of Obanos

Obanos, a crossroads, is the cradle of one of the most beautiful legends of the Way of St. James. The oral transmission of this legend from generation to generation gave rise, in the 1960s, to the enactment of the historical event that came to be called the Mystery of Obanos or the Mystery of St. Guillén and Santa Felicia.

Its main proponent, the priest of Obanos, Don Santos Beguiristáin, wrote the initial text under the title “Of the martyrdom of Santa Felicia and the penance of St. Guillén”. This text was read on Wednesday 25 April 1962, the eve of the festival of San Guillermo, by the children of Obanos in the town square, at ten o’clock at night “around the bonfire of the saint”. According to local news sources, many residents attended the event and had been advised beforehand via public announcement to come “after dinner, without haste”, 

The success of this first popular enactment led to the establishment of a text, in 1965, in alexandrine verses, which recovered the medieval legend and incorporated traditions and characters from the Way of St. James.

The enactment was first staged on 25 August 1965 and its performances continued uninterrupted until 1977, adding up to more than a hundred performances attended by 130,000 people.

During those years, the enactment of the Mystery was sponsored by the Provincial Council of Navarre and the Ministry of Information and Tourism as a part of the “Festivals of Spain”. The Mystery of Obanos won the extraordinary National Prize of the “Mystery Play of Elche”.

After a hiatus of several years, in 1993, the recently created Mystery of Obanos Foundation, together with the Brotherhood of Hermits of Arnotegui, organised an enactment of the mystery as a part of the Festivals of Navarre. That enactment took place once more in 1999. In virtue of the efforts, the collaborative spirit and the labour put in by all the residents of Obanos – the true protagonists of this cultural event – the enactment had, thus, been consolidated. Since then, the enactment continued to be organised in the years 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. 

In 2001 the Mystery of Obanos was declared as a festivity of National Tourist Interest.

The awards received by the “Mystery of Obanos” throughout the years have earned it national and international recognition. Moreover, many actors and directors who participated in these events truly left their mark on this enactment staged by the residents of Obanos.