Mari Pepa Colomer, pilot

A girl, just seven years old, has but one dream: to fly! As she is living on the second floor, she concludes that she can easily fulfill this dream. So she takes an umbrella and jumps from the balcony with the open umbrella by way of a parachute. Of course, this cannot end well, as she is no Mary Poppins. Instead of taking off, she crashes and breaks both legs. Nine years later she has a second try, now with a better result. This is the story of Maria Josep Colomer i Luque, better known as Mari Pepa Colomer (1913-2004).

The young Mari Pepa
As a young girl she already has a very strong bond with her father Josep, a liberal and bohemian textile industrialist, who is a personal friend of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, among others, and linked to the famous café Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona. He sees to it that she can study at the ‘Institut de Cultura i Biblioteca Popular de la Dona‘, a modern and innovative institute in Catalonia’s capital founded in 1909 by Francesca Bonnemaison aiming to give working class women the opportunity of enjoying a good training and learning a trade, so that they could earn their own living.

and then…

Exit Sant Jordi. Enter Santa Jordina.

Sant Jordi (Saint George) has always been one of Catalonia’s heroes, particularly thanks to the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. According to this story he tamed and slayed the dragon that demanded the princess, who remained unnamed, as his next human sacrifice.

Now it looks like Sant Jordi is passed his sell-by date, as Santa Jordina is winning ground and acts in her own right. But not as the passive princess who waits to be rescued, but as the girl who rescues others or empowers the people.

Her voice is heard in a couple of books that have appeared lately, like La revolta de Santa Jordina (Amsterdam Llibres), Santa Jordina (La Galera), Georgina i la dragona (Editorial Beascoa), La Jordina i el drac Parrac (Baula) and La princesa, els llibres i el drac (La Galera).

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Since the Middle Ages Saint George’s name day, and of course Saint Georgina’s as well, is celebrated on 23 April and in those days men used to offer a red rose to their lover as a token of their affection. Nearly a century ago another practice was added and women gave their lover a book.

Nowadays this custom is recognized internationally and the UNESCO has turned it into an annual event: World Book Day. Fortunately today books are given as a present to women and men alike.

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