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Nick Gibbs

Only in Ibiza. It is true though. Things happen here you just couldn’t imagine back in the UK. This weekend was a fine example as we found ourselves sitting around campfires in a forest near Port D’es Torrent, singing, beating drums and quaffing some local speciality brew the name of which was soon forgotten. We quite literally stumbled across the weekend camp of the Andalucían ex-pat Rocio devotees who could not have been more welcoming, or more generous. It was a completely spontaneous and unexpected experience—and at a time of year when it all seems to be about chic and clique—a most welcome counter balance.

Valeria (top right) is quite a character. She has the Andalusian bar in Cala De Bou if you fancy some of their special brand of hospitality.

The small Rocio in Ibiza

Nicole Torres

“El Rocío” as the devotion to Our Lady of Rocío is commonly referred to in Spanish, is a Marian Advocation traditional to Huelva. This cult dates back to the 13th century, when a hunter from the village of Villamanrique (or Almonte, depending on which version of the story you follow) discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk in the Doñana Park. A chapel was built where the tree stood, and it became a place of pilgrimage. Devotion to this particular version of the Virgin was initially a local affair but over the centuries has grown to attract people from all over Spain and overseas. This cult is so heart felt by the andalusian people that those who cannot go home for the pilgrimage have their own, as happened this weekend in San Antonio. In 1988 a group of friends under the spiritual guide of the San Antonio priest Juan Torres Tur created the Hermandad Nuestra Señora del Rocío de Sant Antoni de Portmany. Nowadays the brotherhood has grown a lot and they celebrate the pilgrimage on the Avenida San Agustin in San Antonio. We spoke to Valeria from the Meson Al-Andalus who told us about the passion they feel towards la Virgen del Rocío while following the Sin Pecado (The Without Sin – the cart that carries the Virgin’s image) on the Saturday procession, and especially at the final mass where the Blanca Paloma (the White Dove – another name given to the Virgin) is put back in the church until the next year.

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