Festival of the Virgen de Los Reyes

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – Seville is big on Virgins. And on August 15 it’s the turn of Seville’s very own Our Lady the Virgin of the Kings, the official patroness of the city.

The stories of the origins of the image, whose actual sculptor is unknown, are a mix of history and legend. According to some she was carved by the angels and after being found by Ferdinand III, accompanied him throughout the reconquest of this part of Spain from the Moors. More prosaically, it is said that the king saw her in a vision, and that the image was made on his orders. Another story is that she was a gift from Ferdinand’s cousin, Louis IX of France. Since the 16th century she has “lived” in the Royal Chapel in the Cathedral.

The celebrations officially extend from August 4 to 22, with special services in the cathedral and viewing of the Virgin, but the highlight is the triumphal procession on August 15, the day of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary. The route is short, the procession leaving the cathedral by the gate in the plaza, and doing a single anti-clockwise circuit of the cathedral before entering again by the same gate. It starts early, too, at around 8am, but it’s worth missing your lie-in to go and watch.

The procession is accompanied by many local church and civic dignitaries, a brass band, the pealing of the church bells, and large crowds in the square and surrounding streets. Nowhere does religious processions better than Seville, and the procession of the city’s patron Saint is no exception.

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