The Museum of Sacred Art in Orihuela is offering tours until September 17th about the Virgen de Monserrate, while the statue of her is kept in the Cathedral during the fiestas in her honour.
Participants will learn the legends and realities about the origins of Orihuela’s patron. The visits (between 10am and 2pm, and 5pm and 8pm) start in the Cathedral where the statue is resting on the altar, having been brought for her big day on September 8th.
The tour continues in the museum, where there are scultures of the Virgen from different centuries, including the oldest in the Diocese, a Virgen de Gracía sat with the baby Jesus dated from the 13th century and brought by Jaime I El Conquistador after the Reconquest from the Moors and imposition of Catholicism.
Another from the 14th century survived damage in the Civil War, and an 18th century painting is one of the only images of her without the child.
There are also documents in the Archive room about the patron’s role in previous centuries, including a regulated process residents had to carry out whenever the river threatened to burst its banks.
This required the statue to be taken to the Puente Nuevo and from there a branch to be thrown in the water to pray for an end to the flooding.
This ritual was practised not that long ago and older residents remember it happening during the torrential rain and flooding of the Vega Baja and Murcia in 1984, which even brought the dictator Francisco Franco to Orihuela.
Another document tells that a bouquet of flowers from the patron was left intact after being thrown into a fire at a house in 1746.