Romería de El Rocío

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The Romería de El Rocío is a procession/pilgrimage on the second day of the Pentecost to the Hermitage of El Rocío in the countryside of Almonte, Province of Huelva, Andalusia, Spain, in honor of the Virgin of El Rocío.[1][2] In recent years the Romería has brought together roughly a million pilgrims each year.[3][4]

The pilgrimage dates from 1653, when the Virgin of Las Rocinas was appointed patron saint of Almonte. Originally it took place on 8 September. Since 1758, the Virgin has been known as the Virgin of El Rocío, and the pilgrimage has taken place on the second day of Pentecost.[1]

Structure of the pilgrimage[edit]

The romería as such begins on Saturday before Pentecost. However, pilgrims come from throughout Andalusia (and, nowadays, from throughout Spain and beyond), and typically travel an additional one to seven days beforehand, either on foot, on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages (or, nowadays, in some cases, modern modes of transport such as all terrain vehicles), generally sleeping outdoors. Many count this travel as the most important part of the pilgrimage.[1]

The pilgrims travel in groups known as religious confraternities. They come from many directions: the Camino de los Llanos (Plains Way) from Almonte proper; the Moguer Way, from Moguer and Huelva; the Sanlúcar Way from Cádiz, crossing the River Guadalquivir at El Bajo de Guía; and the Seville Way.[1]

The pilgrimage proper begins at noon on the Saturday. From then until nearly midnight, each confraternity travels to the small village of El Rocío, the oldest confraternities proceeding first. Each bears an emblem of the Immaculate Conception. At midnight, it is the turn of the original confraternity to carry their emblem to the shrine. This is known as the Almonte Rosary ceremony.[1]

At 10 a.m. on Whitsun Sunday, a Pontifical High Mass is said in El Real del Rocío (next to the Sanctuary), where the Virgin was crowned in 1919. On Sunday night, everyone prays the Rosary by candlelight, as each confraternity goes up to the flat of El Eucaliptal next to El Real del Rocío.[1]

Finally, the Immaculate Conception Emblem of Almonte is brought to the Shrine, at which point the Almontese carry the Virgin of El Rocío out into the village streets. The timing of this event differs from one year to the next, so there is always a certain element of spontaneity to it.[1]

Then the journey home begins.[1]

The pilgrims usually wear traditional Andalusian costume. All wear boots. The men wear short jackets and suitable for riding tight pants. Women carry a good flamingo costumes or rociera bata '(similar, but more practical for walking or riding), or a skirt rociera' (a frilly skirt).

Controversy[edit]

Eva Díaz Pérez, who made the pilgrimage four times herself, has criticized it for the "hedonistic" and "pagan" aspect of the encampments, which she compares to the tales of Chaucer or Boccaccio; the absurd prices of real estate in El Rocío, where even the humblest house is now worth millions of euros; and the ecological impact on the surrounding Doñana National Park or Coto de Doñana, especially since the introduction of motor vehicles.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h El Rocio Pilgrimage, visithuelva.com. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  2. ^ hermandadrociosevilla.com, passim. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  3. ^ a b Eva Díaz Pérez, Los excesos del Rocío, El Mundo, 2001-05-27. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  4. ^ El Rocío, Rough Guide to Spain. Retrieved 2010-04-14.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°07′53″N 6°28′59″W / 37.13139°N 6.48306°W / 37.13139; -6.48306