marian calendar     january

Monday after the Sunday after St. Anthony Abbot's Day (January 17)

Nuestra Señora de Peñarroya, Ermita de Peñarroya, Ciudad Real, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

The statue of Our Lady of Peñarroya spends a third of the year at each of three places: the Castillo de Peñarroya, the Moorish fortress where it was found; and the towns of Argamasilla de Alba and La Solana, 7.5 and 21 miles away. On this day, usually the third Monday in January, the people of La Solana return the beloved statue to its distant castle sanctuary (ermita). Robed in brocade and wearing huge crowns, the Virgin and Child ride in a curtained litter on men's shoulders (right, from Parroquia Santa Catalina - La Solana, On the last Sunday in April, the Brotherhood from Argamasilla comes to carry the statue there, to stay until returning to La Solana the second Sunday in September. The week before her departure, Argamasilla honors its patron with a big fiesta which culminates the first Sunday of September with an offering, procession, and dances.

Each town has a different story about the statue's origin. Argamasilla holds that on September 8, 1198, when Capt. Alonso Pérez de Sarabia was overtaking the Castillo, a Moor named Allen promised to reveal the location of treasure if spared. Along with material treasures, the conqueror found the spiritual treasure of the Virgin. But La Solana credits the discovery to one of its native sons, who was herding goats near the castle wall where the statue was hidden—and was helped by the Virgin in person, in some versions.

The original statue was burned in the Spanish Civil War. Inspired by an apparition of Our Lady, a fighter pilot arranged for its replacement. Possibly because of its similarly miraculous history, devotion to the second Virgin of Peñarroya rivals that of the first. (Information from "Nuestra Señora de Peñarroya," Página de los amigos de Argamasilla de Alba,, and other sources.)


Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly