Second Monday in July

Virgen de la Soledad, Ondara, Alicante, Valencia, Spain

In Ondara, near the southeastern coast of Spain, the Minim friars built a chapel to the Virgin of Grief in their convent church. Although the existence of this chapel was documented as early as 1694, devotion did not assume a public dimension until well after government confiscation of the monastery in the mid-1800s. While the friars' residence became the city hall, their church, still known as the "Convento," continued as a place of worship under the Catholic diocese. Formally dedicated to the Most Pure Conception, the Convent Church is better known as the seat of the Virgen de la Soledad — Verge de la Soledat in the Valencian language, Virgin of Grief (for more on this title, see May 9). On April 4, 1909, their grape crop threatened by drought, the people of Ondara carried her statue in procession. Rain fell for the next four days. By 1923, local devotion had grown to the point that Pius XI proclaimed her Principal Patron of the village at its request. The next year, Ondara held its first big Fiestas in honor of the Verge de la Soledat on July 7-9. Every 25 years, the village holds a major anniversary celebration.   

In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Republicans burned articles of worship in Ondara's parish and convent churches, including the statue of the Virgin of Grief. Its remains reside in a coffer in the Convent Church, along with a replacement statue carved by José Gerique in 1941.

In ordinary years, the Association of the Virgin of Grief and the Fiesta Commission organize the events that culminate on the second Monday in July. Some 10 months previously, they hold the gala election of the Fiesta Queens (a young woman and a little girl), to be crowned during and to preside over the festivities with their courts. The July fiestas begin at noon on Friday with a general ringing of bells and Angelus at the Convent Church. On Saturday there is a parade; on Sunday, a floral offering, feasting, and music. On Monday, strains of the dolçaina, a folk clarinet, awaken the village for the main events, to include the solemn mass of La Soledat in the parish church at noon, a candlelight procession, and fireworks.

Sources include:

bulletAntonio Bellver, "La Virgen de la Soledad en Ondara," Ondara en la Història,
bullet"Ondara," Buzón Ciudadano,
bulletSergi Mallol i Garcia, "La imatge de la Mare de Déu de la Soledat d'Ondara," Ondara en la història,
bulletEduardo Fernández Merino, La Virgen de Luto ~ Indumentaria de las dolorosas castellanas,
bulletPaco Soler, Pep Boluda, & Robert Miralles, "Les Festes Patronals d'Ondara - dels orígens fins el 1936," Ondara en la història,

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly