Embraced by the largest concentration of almond blossom in the whole continent, the Diocesan Sanctuary of Saliente dawned very crowded last Sunday to celebrate the luminous feast of the Candlemas. This celebration, which was revived a couple of years ago, was attended by some exceptional guests. These were some thirty families who, over the past year, came to the Roel to have their children baptised.
It was precisely these children, together with the Cuadrilla de Ánimas del Saliente led by Francisco Martínez Botella, who filled this marvellous enclave in the Sierra de las Estancias with joyful music. Coplas and sones which, on more than one occasion, made the pilgrims jump and dance parrandas in the large atrium. In the huge esplanade, meanwhile, several dozen vehicles patiently received the Rector’s blessing with their corresponding dose of holy water.
A light rain, although it did not deter the pilgrims, forced the blessing of the candles to take place in one of the inner halls. The procession, in which each of the pilgrims carried a lit candle, also passed through the cloisters and galleries of the historic Sanctuary. The solemn Holy Mass was preached by Don Francisco José Parra Moreo, a priest from Murcia, a devotee of the Pequeñica who came on pilgrimage with some friends.
Great enthusiasm was generated by the eagerly awaited raffle of the “Torta de la Virgen”, a delicious sweet made in Las Pocicas with a centuries-old recipe and a multitude of ingredients. The innocent hand of little Triana chose the winning ballot, which went to Doña María José. Then, under the sacred image of the Pequeñica, the children were presented to be placed under her maternal protection.
Now that the weather was more adverse, the pilgrims prolonged the fiesta with family meals and entrusting themselves to Our Lady of the Forsaken of the Good Retreat of the Crowned Saliente.