In LUCENA in the Province of CORDOBA, the Virgen de la Sierra, the Patron Saint is carried down from the Sanctuary to the church of San Mateo in April, a celebration dating back to the 16th century. In VILLANUEVA DEL ROSARIO in the Province of MALAGA, the shrine of the Virgen del Rosario, is the destination for the ROMERIA procession in August.
In ANDUJAR in the Province of JAEN the Virgen de la Cabeza is enshrined in a forbidding sanctuary in the wild hill of the SIERRA MORENA with the history going back to the 13th century. The MADONNA known as "La Borenita", attracts over 1 million people who get to Cerro de la Cabeza to participate in one of the most popular pilgrimages which is declared of National tourist interest. Flags and standard bearers, followed by men and women, some doing penance, tractors, lorries, cars and then a municipal band, bear the cavalcade by a principal brotherhood and Roman chariot parade.
The procession makes its way to LUGAR NUEVO 32 kms away, and on the Saturday the pilgrims visit the VIRGEN in her chapel and on Sunday an open air mass is held when the VIRGEN DE LA CABEZA is carried high and revered and then returned to her shrine.
The most famous and biggest pilgrimage in ANDALUCIA must be to EL ROCIO, a hamlet in the marshlands on the Guadalquivir delta South of ALMONTE, where the MADONNA OF THE DEW has been worshipped since 1280. Started in the 15th century when a hunter, who lived in VILLAMANRIQUE, found a statue of the VIRGEN MARY in a tree trunk, the devotion was first limited to the local villages and ALMONTE, which soon made the VIRGEN its Patron Saint. In the 19th and 20th century it extended itself to the Triana quarter of SEVILLE and then to the whole of ANDALUSIA, and became known as "BLANCA PALOMA".
A lot of people leave to go to EL ROCIO from outside the church in TRIANA, SEVILLE after mass. The pilgrims, the men wearing wide brimmed hats and the women in traditional gypsy dress with small bunches of country flowers in their hair, all with a wide green ribbon with a heavy silver medal around their necks, indicating that they are going to the ROMERIA. Two oxen are hitched to a small cart and two wooden wheels support a silver temple covered with flowers, the standard Simpecado has in the centre an effigy of the VIRGEN DEL ROCIO, Our Lady of the Dew. A peal of bells ends the mass and firecrackers are let off heralding the start of the pilgrimage. Marching to the cries of VIVE DE LA REINA DE LA MARISMA. "Hurrah for the Queen of the Marshes" the procession, followed by dozens of traditional ox carts and then a long caravan of tractors set off.
The procession takes a week to reach the marshlands with the people walking at ox pace or on horseback, and at night they set up a circle of wagons in a pine forest with the Simpecado in the centre and the pilgrims gather to say the rosary. Dawn awakes to firecrackers and the oxen hitched they are off again. In the same manner hundreds of brotherhood leave the towns and villages from all over ANDALUCIA, their goal identical, with some of them taking weeks to arrive. When the procession arrives it presents the banner to the PATRONESS OF HUELVA MARSHES.
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