Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Investigate a Family Mystery


PARIS — Almost a year ago, while covering news on the Spanish island of Majorca, I entered a cramped notions shop named Angela that had been in the Aguiló family for centuries. One of the relatives led me upstairs to show an elaborate family tree with 560 names in tidy black and blue print that spanned 500 years.
But missing from the tree was a major family drama that had affected descendants of most of its branches: A distant ancestor, Catalina Terongi, was burned at the stake in a public auto-da-fé in the 17th century after investigators for the Spanish Inquisition discovered that she and others had been secretly practicing Judaism despite their conversion to Christianity. To the end she refused to renounce her faith, urging other victims to ignore the heat of their burning clothes.
That story had power to bring the tree of names alive.
Click here to read more from the NY Times.

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