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Nuestra Señora de Zocueca, Bailén, Jaén, Andalucía, Spain

Commemorated on July 20
Nuestra Señora de Zocueca, Bailén, Jaén, Andalucía, Spain
Around 1150, Mozarabic Christians built a rudimentary chapel near the Rumblar River, the Guadalquivir tribuitary that waters this region in southern Spain, at a place called Zocueca. When Alfonso VII reconquered the area in 1155, people gave thanks to the Virgin at the shrine. In the 1400s it was was rebuilt, and from this period the graceful, standing Gothic statue of the Mother and Child seems to date, although tradition holds it to be older than the first chapel. During the cholera epidemic of 1681, the people vowed to hold an annual feast in honor of the Virgin, preceded by a day of fasting, if she would save them. The promise has been kept on August 5 ever since. The chapel was redecorated in Baroque style in the 1700s. In 1808, people again thanked the Virgin of Zocueca for her help during the Battle of Bailén, the first Spanish victory against Napoleon. Annually since 1810, the municipality commemorates the battle with a series of civil, patriotic, and religious events July 17-22, reaching their greatest splendor on the days of the 19th, anniversary of the battle, and the 20th, when the Patroness, the Virgin of Zocueca, goes through the city streets in procession. Another event in her honor, the romería or pilgrimage, takes place the last Sunday in September in thanks for her help ending a plague of locusts that threatened the region's crops in the late 1800s. Men carry the statue, bristling with decorations, on their shoulders from its usual home in the Church of the Incarnation in Bailén to the sanctuary four miles distant, where overnight vigil is kept before a sunrise mass. In 1925, the Virgin of Zocueca was proclaimed "Captain General" and her statue given a military sash. After the statue burned in the Civil War, religious sculptor Jose Maria Alcacer made a replica, blessed on August 5, 1954. (Information from Ayuntamiento de Bailén,; and other sources. Photo from "Virgen de Zocueca - BAILEN," Pueblos de España,  




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