El Rocío: a tradition from Huelva that tresspases frontiers
El Rocío is the perfect combination of tradition, culture and Mediterranean gastronomy. During the pilgrimage to the village of El Rocío, in Almonte, the route becomes a festival of carts, horses, traditional costumes and, always, in unison with flamenco singing and dancing. It is a route that offers those who follow it an incomparable sight with every step they take through the heart of the Doñana National Park.
For many, the Pilgrimage of El Rocío is the most awaited moment of the year. Thousands of worshippers live devotedly all year long and come from all over Spain and even from abroad to walk the route and visit the Virgen del Rocio.
What is the history of the Virgen del Rocio?
In the 15th century, in the Almonte district of La Rocina, a man found a carving of the Virgen del Rocio in a tree. Intact despite the weather conditions, the man decided to pick it up and carry it to Almonte. On the way, he fell asleep and when he woke up, the Virgin was no longer with him. He returned to the tree to find that there was she again.
Shocked by what had happened, he returned to the village to spread the news and as a consequence they decided to erect a chapel dedicated to the Virgen de las Rocinas, as it was originally called, in the same place.
The records of the Town Hall of Almonte date the creation of the first Filial Brotherhood in the 16th century. There are currently more than 120 Rocío brotherhoods that officially participate in the traditional events of El Rocío.
When is it celebrated and what does it consist of?
El Rocío is celebrated during the weekend of Pentecost Sunday, which is 50 days after the end of Holy Week. This year, it will be held from the 3rd to the 6th of June.
It begins at 12 noon on the Saturday before Pentecost. In order of seniority, each of the Brotherhoods present themselves before the doors of the sanctuary with their banner or simpecao. Days before, each brotherhood must make its pilgrimage from its point of origin in order to arrive on time for the presentation.
On Pentecost Sunday at 10am, the Pontifical Mass is celebrated in the Real del Rocío. Once the Eucharist is over, the pilgrims gather in the houses of their brotherhoods. On Sunday night, the holy Rosary is acclaimed and all the banners and pilgrims of each brotherhood are called together.
The moment of greatest fervour and devotion is when the pilgrims make the “salto de la reja” (jump over the fence) to carry the Virgin on their shoulders and begin the procession in the early hours of Monday morning. It is a moment charged with emotion, where feelings run high.
Although the Pilgrimage of El Rocío is the best known, mobilising more than a million people, the province of Huelva, like the rest of the Andalusian provinces, has numerous pilgrimages spread throughout its territory during these dates. Some of the closest to AMA are the Romería de La Bella de Lepe (6th May 2022) and the Romería de Cartaya (26th May 2022), so the celebration is guaranteed for “fiesta” lovers.
The charm of the Aldea del Rocío is undeniable. In addition to offering a unique experience to those who attend its pilgrimage, which apart from its religious significance is a full-fledged celebration of life, the village has become a world-renowned tourist enclave. Its unpaved streets, the natural landscape that surrounds it and the closeness and friendliness of its inhabitants make a visit to the village a must.
Just over an hour from AMA Residences Andalucía, you will have the opportunity to walk through its cobbled streets, visit the Ajolí Bridge or get to know the biodiversity of Las Marismas and the Doñana National Park.
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