Romería de la Santa Faz in Alicante

santa fazWhen:
If you want to join the thousands of Alicantinos for this massive traditional Christian pilgrimage, make sure you rise and shine! The romería (pilgrimage) gets under way each year at 8 o'clock in the morning on the second Thursday following Holy Week.

Everyone who's up for the eight kilometer pilgrimage gathers at the San Nicholas Cathedral and then makes the religious trek to the Santa Faz Monastery.

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As its name suggests, the Santa Faz (Holy Visage) Monastery has what is believed to be a part of the veil with which Veronica wiped the blood from Christ's face as he carried the cross. Well, over five centuries ago in 1489, a Christian pilgrimage to this monastery was arranged to pray for an end to the debilitating drought plaguing the area- a serious ordeal, as the Alicante region has always relied heavily on its farmlands. As the people prayed, a tear is said to have appeared on the image of Christ's right cheek. Lo and behold, just a fews later the drops began to fall!

The traditionally Christian pilgrimage is the 2nd largest pilgrimage in Spain, outdone only by the Andalucía's El Rocío. Over 200,000 Alicantinos donning traditional peasant clothing and pilgrimage canes festively complete the eight kilometer walk to the monastery, where the cloth- whose guarded safe requires four keys to be opened- is taken out for an enormous mass. Along the way it's a tradition to stop for a short break, otherwise known as a "paraeta," during which the people nibble on anise rolls and drink fondillón, a typical Alicante wine.