Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Devotions to Our Lady

I am always amazed at how many iterations of Mary there are in the world.  Many are local devotions based on miracles, apparitions or statues that survived war and plunder.  I recently acquired several vintage medals pertaining to The Virgin of Rocío, a Marian image venerated in Almonte, Spain (province of Huelva; southeast Spain).  Within Almonte is the village of El Rocío, whose shrine is the most important Marian pilgrimage site in Spain. Who knew?

What began in 1270 as a simple chapel sheltering a statue of Our Lady has become an elaborate ritual that attracts over a million people for the main celebration in May and hundreds of thousands who visit the shrine throughout the year.  In the 1600s, brotherhoods or "hermandades" began forming, each representing a city or village in Spain devoted to El Rocío.  To date there are 102 brotherhoods, the most recent formed in 2004.

At the annual procession, each brotherhood's members march in a very specific order (matrix), wearing a medal hung on their chest that identifies their brotherhood.  The medals I acquired represent four of these brotherhoods.  Each is quite large and dramatic and features an ornate rendering of the Virgin.  If you'd like to learn more about this unique veneration of Our Lady, there's a Spanish language website with tons of information and pictures of the medals.

Our Blessed Mother touches everyone, everywhere in so many ways.  May she bless and inspire your life today, and always!

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