The Piló del Rescat de Sant Esteve (Pillar of the Rescue/Ransoming by St Stephen) is a memorial to the popular millennial Catalan legend of the rescue of the 100 virgin maidens. Since 2017, the pillar has been located at the entrance to La Torre d’en Dolça Park, so that it would be more accessible and visible.
This square sandstone monolith is four metres high, 80 centimetres thick and weighs some 11 tonnes. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the pillar was destroyed and it was restored by the consistory in 1965. Now the symbolic monument is showcased in a landscaped area of 200m2 replete with urban furniture, lighting and watering system.
The Piló del Rescat de Sant Esteve marked the site where—according to legend—Saint Stephen, the patron saint of Vila-seca, rescued the 100 maidens. In the twelfth century, Admiral Galceran de Pinós and his manservant Santcerní were imprisoned when they tried to conquer the city of Almeria and then moved to the prison in Granada. The King of Granada demanded an enormous ransom for them that included 100 virgin maidens. After they had gathered everything demanded, the retinue departed towards the Port of Salou to set sail for Granada. Meanwhile, Galceran de Pinós prayed to Saint Stephen, the patron saint of Bagà, that the maidens would be released, while Santcerní prayed to Saint Genís, the patron saint of his parish. The miracle occurred after their prayers, when the two suddenly appeared, free, on the shores of La Pineda Platja. This myth united the municipalities of Bagà and Vila-seca.
The Piló del Rescat has two inscriptions. The face that faces south reads (in Catalan): Voyager, stop: ‘Here the nobleman Galcerà De Pinós and his manservant Santcerní were found, miraculously freed by the intercession of Saint Stephen, with the 100 virgin maidens and the entire ransom demanded by the King of Granada (1152–1965)’.
The Vila-seca shield is on the western side and, under it, the symbols of Pinós’ ancestry and another brief inscription with the restoration year. In the middle of the north side is a relief recreating the ransoming scene, a work by local Vila-seca artist Joan Salvadó i Voltas.