Dawn pilgrimage draws the crowds
By Alex Watkins MORE than 4,000 people participated in the Venida de la Virgen pilgrimage in Elche on Friday.
At 07.00, before sunrise, the dramatic representation began of how the statue of the Virgin Mary was supposedly found on Tamarit beach on December 28, 1370 by the coastguard Francesc Cantó. According to legend, it was washed up in an ark which also contained the original musical score and stage directions for the Mystery of Elche religious play. Afterwards the pilgrims, including the mayor and councillors, walked from Santa Pola back to Elche, stopping for a traditional picnic halfway. At around 15.00 Cantó, played by jockey Francisco Sanmartín, galloped on horseback to the Plaza de Baix to announce the discovery of the city’s patron, which was then carried to the Basílica de Santa María.
Pilgrims taking part in the Venida de la Virgen