Virgin of Almudena

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Virgin of Almudena at Almudena Cathedral in Madrid
Original Virgin of Almudena statue on display at Almudena Cathedral

The Virgin of Almudena (Virgen de la Almudena) is a medieval icon of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. The image is the advocation of the Virgin that serves as a patroness of Madrid, Spain.

Intriguingly, however, its name derives from the Arabic term of Al Mudayna, or the citadel. There are various legends regarding the icon. One story is that in 712, prior to the capture of the town by the advancing Muslim forces, the inhabitants of the town secreted the image of the virgin, for its own protection, inside the walls surrounding the town. In the 11th century, when Madrid was reconquered by the King Alfonso VI of Castile, the Christian soldiers endeavored to find the statue. After days of prayer, the spot on the wall hiding the icon crumbled, revealing the statue. Another legend is that as Christian Soldiers approached the town, they had a vision of Mary imploring them to allow her to lead them into the city. Again the miraculous crumbling of the wall occurred, with the icon showing an entry route through the walls.

The Cathedral of Madrid is dedicated to this advocation of the Virgin and her feast day, 9 November, is a major holiday in Madrid.