Yesterday we participated in our first romería, or pilgrimage.
In the first or second century, six disciples were sent from the north of Spain* to evangelize the rest of Hispania. One of those disciples, San Cecilio, reportedly was killed when he met Romans near Granada. That made him a martyr.
After the “reconquest” of Andalucía in 1492—when the Jews and Muslims were forced out by the reyes católicos (Catholic kings) Ferninand and Isabel—the Catholic church looked for ways to reconnect Granada to its Christian past. And the martyr San Cecilio looked like a great candidate for patron saint. Conveniently, about 100 years later San Cecilio’s ashes were discovered on a hill site near the Albaicín—in what is now called Sacromonte—which justified the building of a church and monastery to house his ashes and other relics.
February 1 is San Cecilio day, but the romería takes place the first Sunday in February. We walked to the monastery from our house, joining lots of other people who were enthusiastic about being outside, with the prospect of drinking beer, on a gorgeous day. Although there are actual liturgical rites performed in honor of San Cecilio, the romería is more like a fair featuring traditional food, music and dance.
*Since the Middle Ages, Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain has been an important pilgrimage site, with routes extending into France and southern Spain.
Watch the sevillana, a traditional style of dance and music from Seville (17 seconds).