La Romería

10 Oct

Maybe you’ve heard that religion isn’t as strong as it used to be in Spain. And ok, maybe Saturday at the club is more crowded than Sunday morning mass. But one thing is for certain when it comes to religion: these Spaniards take it very, very seriously. Example numero uno: La Romería

A romería is basically a religious pilgrimage that consists of a trip to a certain sanctuary or hermitage. These pilgrimages come in all shapes and sizes (as do their pilgrims) and usually last about a day. Some romerías are more famous than others – such as Nuestra Señora del Rocio and Virgen de la Cabeza, which are both in Andalucía.

However, this past Sunday took us to a little place called Cabra. (For you Spanish-speakers: yes, the city is named “Goat.”) Located only 8 kilometers from Lucena, the charming white-washed town is surrounded by – you guessed it – olive trees and mountains. And right atop the tallest peak around lies the Santuario de la Virgen de la Sierra — The Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Mountain. The sanctuary is supposedly on the spot where the Virgin Mary herself appeared in the cave some hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

The statue of the Virgin lives up on the altar of the sanctuary’s church for nearly the entire year with the exception of September when she makes her big appearance in town for the fair.

And how, you might ask, does a Virgin get from the top of a mountain to the center of town? Well, let me just tell you that she does not have a drivers license nor would she fit behind the wheel of a car, for that matter. She, of course, is carried down from the top of the mountain on the shoulders of her faithful citizens in Cabra.

For nearly a month she enjoys her place in the city and makes an appearance at the fair being held in her honor before it is time yet again for her to return to her place overlooking the city. That’s where the romería comes into play. They same faithful (and strong, I might add) citizens carry the Virgin back up the mountain to her rightful home.

Not wanting to miss a good opportunity for a little fiesta (we’re talking about Spain, after all) people from all over come to bring the Virgin back to the top of the mountain. Some walk on foot, some ride horses and others still take the winding road by car.

Wanting to get the full effect we found ourselves hiking – rather, struggling – up the side of the mountain for what may have been 2.5 of the roughest hours of my life. And I wasn’t even carrying a Virgin! But atop the hill we were rewarded with stunning views of the province of Córdoba, a visit to the Virgin Mary and a heaping plate of paella prepared by the good people of Cabra. All in all, a good Sunday.

Today’s Wordmontaña (n.): mountain; as in “I’m exhausted after hiking straight up the montaña to see the Virgin Mary.”

3 Responses to “La Romería”

  1. Grandma and Grandpa October 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    What a wonderful account of this “pilgrimage.” We are all on a pilgrimage – some of us just to St. Joseph’s but this one was impressive!

    We had pictures in our paper of our Deacon Al Gaspari blessing the animals last week at St, J school. Deacon Al said there were dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish in heir bowls, other assorted domestic pets – no ponies this year….time did not allow I’m thinking.

    GP went shopping with me this morning – Staples, Appliance Repair for a part of the ice-cube-making-device – had lunch waiting for baseball games, condo meeting at 6 PM, bowling tomorrow, Bridge on Wednesday and Thursday – left eye cataract surgery. Hope it goes as well as the right eye 7/21.
    Thanks for writing, mucho gratias – Love, Grandma and Grandpa

  2. Elizabeth Lonneman October 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Wow. The view must have been breath taking from up there! If i went up, I would go by horseback… It is right up my alley. 🙂 Hope you had a good night sleep after that climb!
    Love, Elizabeth

  3. Ellen Lonnema October 11, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    You amaze us…now, a pilgrimage. Keep taking it all in and absorbing everything you possibly can. Hope you know how we love to keep learning from you and with you.
    Stay safe,
    Aunt Ellen

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