The Rocío dates back to the 15th Century. It was then that a hunter discovered an image of the virgin in a tree trunk within Doñana Park.
A brief history about the Rocío
After discussions between the inhabitants dwellers of Almonte (where the Virgin was discovered), and those of what is now called Villamanrique de la Condesa (the hometown of the hunter) as to who should own the virgin, it was agreed that the strength of two pairs of oxen should decide the problem. There was no winner because the oxen were of equal strength and the Virgin remained unmoved. As a result, the image of the Virgin stayed where it was found, the place was known at the time as the ‘rocinas’ and a chapel was built for her on that site.
From that time, the Rocinas (later el Rocío) became a place of pilgrimage place and in the 17th Century took on more importance when the virgin was proclaimed The Patron Saint of Almonte and the “Matriz” (Father/original) brotherhood of Almonte was founded. By the end of the 19th century El Rocío had 9 subsidiay brotherhoods. But as it became more widely known during the 20th century this number grew to in excess of 100. Most are from Andalusia but others are from other provinces in Spain and even abroad.
How to hallucinate without taking drugs?
The truth is that I do not have a clue, but can assure you that everything you see, hear and feel are not hallucinations. You will think you are watching a film or dreaming a strange dream. You are not!. Everything is real and so is El Rocío. You just have to live a pilgrimage from beginning to end and you will realise what I mean. It is much more than a a pilgrimage, it is a continuous performance of Living Art where Andalusian folklore, joyful, parties and social life go hand in hand with devotion and worship.
Please feel free to share your opinion if you have ever had the opportunity to live the Rocío either as a pilgrim or as a visitor. I would love to know if you were so amazed as I.