June 2, 2023

The Governing Council has agreed to register in the General Catalog of Historical Heritage (CGPHA)at the request of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, to the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Rocío in Almonte as Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) with the typology of Activity of Ethnological Interestsince it has enormous symbolic and ethnological value as a representation of Andalusian identity, the intangible heritage activity being especially significant.

The Pilgrimage of the Virgen del Rocío It is celebrated annually during the days before and after Pentecost Sunday in the village of the same name, belonging to the Huelva municipality of Almonte. It is the most multitudinous supra-communal Marian pilgrimage in Andalusia, together with the pilgrimage of the Virgen de la Cabeza in Andújar (Jaén), and the one with the largest territorial extension beyond the geographical limits of the community itself, with special emphasis on the eight Andalusian provinces, constituting an emblematic manifestation of Andalusian popular religiosity.

The pilgrimage and the cult are based on the legend of the apparition of the Virgen del Rocío, originally called Santa María de las Rocinas, a Marian devotion whose origin is located after the Christian conquest, at the end of the 12th century, at a crossroads between the current provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cádiz. The first allusion to the invocation and worship that today refers to the Virgen del Rocío is collected in Alfonso XI’s Libro de Montería (1350), although in the 15th century an increase in devotional growth is supposed in the immediate environment, especially in the town of Almonte –place of origin of the Matrix Brotherhood-, where at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century the first transfers of the Virgin were confirmed as a consequence of epidemics, droughts and various public calamities.

According to historiography, the Rocío Pilgrimage seems to take place around the middle of the 17th century, when Nuestra Señora de las Rocinas was named patron saint of the town of Almonte, in 1653, on the occasion of the Immaculate Vow promoted and formulated by the Almonte authorities. During the 18th century there was a devotional boom reaching its festival at Whitsunday Easter to various towns in the region.

When the Primitiva Regla de Almonte was drafted (1758), there was already a temple -which replaced the previous small hermitage after its ruin due to the earthquake that had occurred three years earlier- and seven brotherhoods that give the pilgrimage a regional character, knowing moments of splendor until the French invasion. It is in the 20th century, after the Canonical Coronation of the Virgin (1919) and the works of the new temple (1969) when the start of the great Rociera explosion occurs in Andalusia, which will experience the greatest expansion of the filial brotherhoods over the decades. from the 80s and 90s.

As a festive ritual, El Rocío constitutes a significant fact of Andalusian society and culture. Articulated on the pilgrimage experience of the roads and coexistence in the village, it represents a model of celebration for numerous Andalusian pilgrimages that have it as a mirror. To this significance must be added the particularities of the ritual itself that make it unique, such as the physical space where the activity takes place.

It is a natural environment framed in the marshes of the Guadalquivir that includes the Protected Natural Area of ​​Doñana. A place that has high natural and landscape values ​​integrated into a mosaic of ecosystems (beaches, dunes, preserves, marshes) that house a unique biodiversity in Europe, being recognized by the European institutions and by Unesco, which declared part of the World Heritage territory. in 1994. The confluence and interrelation of the cultural and the natural materializes in the Sanctuary and the village of El Rocío, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest with the category of Historic Site in 2006.

Tangible assets protected as BIC

The file specifies the link as assets of all those most relevant objects and elements linked to the Parent Brotherhood for the development of the pilgrimage and which are considered to be elements of guardianship.

Thus, the carving of Nuestra Señora del Rocío y Niño (anonymous from the 12th century), an image of undoubted artistic, historical and ethnological value, is protected as an Asset of Cultural Interest. The main symbolic reference that supports the sanctuary and the pilgrimage, it is a Gothic carving made of polychrome birch wood. Historians place the arrival of the image towards the end of the 13th century, typologically constituting one of the Alphonse virgins who settled in the territory after the Christian conquest. The Lady, standing hieratic, with downcast eyes and a sweet and smiling expression, is dressed in the Habsburg fashion and wears a crown, a gust and a crescent moon, apocalyptic signs.

The collection of costumes of the Virgin is also protected, among which the Montpensier or Coronation costumes stand out, and the costume of the Apostles -recently intervened by the Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage- as well as the costumes of Pastora; the iconographic accessories and jewels of the Virgen del Rocío and the Child – bursts, crescents, crowns, sceptres, rostrillos, shoes and scepters of the Child, brooches and crosses-; and the set of processional litters, the work of Cayetano González.

Within the treasure of the Matriz de Almonte Brotherhood, the set of insignia and banners is also protected; the collection of pictorial, metallic and photographic ex-votos, as well as the ceramic ex-voto of Don Fernando de Orleans; the collection of ceramic panels -made up of panels from 1696, 1919 and 1942-; and the Historical Archive of the Brotherhood, where the Minutes Books, the newspaper and poster collection and the Philatelic Collection of Reverend Antonio Bueno Montes are recorded.

Finally, the monument to the Patron Saint of Almonte, located in the Plaza de la Virgen del Rocío, next to the Parish Church of the Assumption, in Almonte, and the monument to the Coronation of the Virgin, erected to commemorate the canonical coronation of the Virgin and located in the real of the village of El Rocío.

Intangible assets protected as BIC

In addition to the Pilgrimage of Pentecost, or Rocío Grande, the Rocío Chico is protected as an Asset of Cultural Interest of an intangible nature, a celebration that has taken place since 1813 every August 19 with a solemn Votive Function, in gratitude of the population for the occupation of the French troops; the Festival of Light or Candelaria, as well as the annual pilgrimages of the filial brotherhoods, which take place the first days of February and the “comings of the Virgin” to Almonte, transfers to and from where the Virgin changes the Pentecost dress by that of Pastora and currently stipulated every seven years, and the parish function or mass and subsequent procession of the Virgin dressed as Queen through the streets of Almonte.

El Rocío is also an exponent of a rich intangible heritage as a manifestation of individual and choral musical expressions that are part of Andalusian musical folklore.

Among them, the sevillanas rocieras stand out, whose value lies in constituting a descriptive source of all the events of the pilgrimage; the playing of bagpipes and drums, a combination of flute and drum used in ceremonies whose origin dates back to the Middle Ages and enjoys great recognition and vigor today with the existence of different schools of drummers in the filial brotherhoods and the salve Rociera, a Marian couplet whose lyrics were written by Rafael León Arias de Saavedra and Manuel López-Quiroga, with flamenco music by Manuel Pareja Obregón and Gerardo del Valle Beltrán, offered to the Virgin and performed in numerous acts and moments of the pilgrimage.

The clothing used during the pilgrimage is also a characteristic element of the ethnological heritage linked to the activity, especially that used by women. Thus, they are dressed in the rociera robe to walk the road, a garment inspired by the flamenco dresses of the April Fair in Seville and established in the 1920s, made up of one or two pieces that give the typical dress more versatility. flamenco.

Similarly, the file includes various spaces with differentiated functions in the spatio-temporal organization of the Rocío Pilgrimage, such as the Plaza de la Virgen del Rocío, El Chaparral, the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción and the Casa Brotherhood of the Mother Brotherhood, in Almonte; the traditional paths along which the pilgrims go to the village, namely, Camino de los Llanos or Almonte, Camino de Villamanrique, Camino de Moguer and Camino de Sanlúcar, as well as the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Rocío, the Votive Chapel of the Sanctuary , the Pocito de la Virgen and the squares of Arriero, Doñana and Acebuchal in the village of El Rocío.

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