The Pilgrimage El Rocio
Romeria del Rocío is one of the most famous and largest pilgrimage in Spain.
The event, which connects Christian tradition with cheerful celebration takes place fifty days after the end of Holy Week. Every year more than one million rocieros, as it is called pilgrims arrives at the Day of Pentecost to the sanctuary Paloma Blanca, located in the village of El Rocío just 17 kilometers from the town of Almonte ( Province of Huelva).
The aim of the pilgrims is tribute to the image of Our Lady of El Rocío.
The pilgrimage has origins in the twelfth century and is related with the mysterious appearance of the miraculous image of the statue of Virgin Mary, which, as legend says,
was found by a hunter in the vicinity of Almonte. It was located on one of the trees growing in areas local wetlands. Hunter took the statue with him, but when he stopped to rest, figure miraculously returned to the place from which it was taken. The sanctity of the place has been confirmed. Soon a chapel was built there and later Ermita or the Basilica of Our Lady of El Rocío.
Depending on the place where it is organized, pilgrimage can take from several hours to several weeks, while the path is traditionally traversed on horseback, on foot or in cars harnessed in oxen. Some vehicles look like a stage-coach of the Wild West, or gypsy wagons, colorfully decorated with ribbons, flowers, and curtains. During the day, the brotherhood joyfully cover the road humming songs and "coplasem". While the night they bivouac under the open sky, and around bonfires are organized fun games, during which they are a singing and dancing combined with the sharing of food and drink into the early hours of the morning.
Pilgrims coming to the village of El Rocío distributed throughout the encampment awaiting the arrival of other fraternities On Saturday they march by city and in the roar of bells appear along with the standard of the association before the Blessed Virgin. On Sunday they have a place of worship, and at night no one sleeps in anticipation of the celebration, which lasts until Monday morning.