The Hermitage of El Rocío is a pilgrimage at El Rocío in the countryside of Almonte, in the Province of Huelva, right here in Andalusia. It takes place the weekend before Pentecost Monday, this year, that fell on the weekend of Saturday June 11th. Monday June 13th (a few days ago) was known as Whit Monday and it is a religious holiday in many countries including Ireland, Holland and Switzerland. The date on which it falls is always a Monday, but the date differs every year depending on when Easter falls.
I decided to go to El Romería this year, as it was pretty closeby and I felt I would enjoy the experience.I took a bus there (not the traditional horse and carriage method of transport I´m afraid)! On my journey, I meet with some other pilgrims from all corners of the world. A lot of them had travelled together as religious groups or “confraternities”. And so the pilgrimage had begun.
The pilgrimage begins at noon on the Saturday. From then until midnight, each confraternity travels to the small village of El Rocío, the oldest confraternities proceeding first. Each bears an emblem of the Immaculate Conception. At midnight, it is the turn of the original confraternity to carry their emblem to the shrine. This is known as the Almonte Rosary ceremony.
On Sunday, I went to mass in El Real del Rocío, where the Virgin was crowned in 1919. On Sunday night, everyone prays the Rosary by candlelight, as each confraternity goes up to the flat of El Eucaliptal.
Finally, the Immaculate Conception Emblem of Almonte is brought to the Shrine, as the Virgin of El Rocío out into the streets. This marks the end of the pilgrimage.
After a spirtual and enriching few days, I began my journey home.
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