November 9 is a special holiday in Madrid. For the residents of Madrid, Spain, this is a very important date — when the beloved patroness La Virgen de la Almudena is feted. It’s no-work day for Madrilenos in order to offer full honors to the Patron Saint of the city and celebrating the Lady’s feast.
People wait for the procession to pass through and enter the Almudena Cathedral. The icon of the Virgin involves a few popular stories, one of which is that the people of ancient Madrid town decided to hide the statue as the town was captured by the Moslem warriors. Upon reconquering of Madrid by Rey Alfonso VI, he and his soldiers looked for the whereabouts of the icon. It was discovered hidden behind a portion of the walls that protected the town
11AM Mass at the Plaza
Everyone gathers within and around the Plaza Mayor, many of them garbed in brightly-colored capes and gowns — known as chulapos and chulapas. Here, they await and hear the special mass that is meant to celebrate Nuestra Senora de la Virgen de la Almudena. People join the procession of the patron as the icon is carried around the area until it is brought to the Cathedral Almuneda. It is one of the most special Spanish holiday, a highly awaited religious event of the city — with all of the local women invited to come and participate in the feast day’s activities, especially the procession.
Legend about the City Patroness
Recognized as the most important religious holiday in Madrid, it comes with a popular legend. It tells about a miracle that is attributed directly to the Virgin of Al Mudena. This particular story, which has been handed down from one generation to another, tells about the icon being hidden during the Moorish invasion and conquest. It was said that 3 lighted candles accompany the statue as it was hidden behind a wall. It was only after three hundred years that the icon was found after an exhaustive search by the Madrilenos, with the candles miraculously still lit.
Men and women participants at the plaza in front of the Almudena Cathedral, wearing beautiful suits and gowns as well as long capes – these are the traditional dresses that are worn in celebration of the Fiesta of Madrid’s patron – Virgen de la Almudena
We proceeded to one of the city’s most popular squares – the Plaza Mayor – where a midday mass was held in the midst. This is one of the highlights of the celebration of this religious Spanish holiday of Madrid. You would realize from the number of attendees in the square that the Virgen de la Almudena is well-loved by the Madrilenos
Participants of the procession walk the streets around the plaza of the Almudena, wearing traditional Chulapo and Chulapa dresses. To honor the Virgin, people offer beautiful flowers to her – this is also a common gesture that befits Madrid’s beloved patroness
Everyone joins the Spanish holiday celebration in Madrid last November 9, either as onlookers and participants to the procession. The Virgin of the the Al muneda is an ancient and revered representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The icon serves to remind the people of Madrid that the Virgin of Almoneda is the city’s Patroness
Statue of Pope John Paul IV in the courtyard of the Catedral.
Where in Madrid:
Calle de Bailen, 10