Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Monday, 19 March 2012

My neighbour is a saint.

Actually, I should say, my neighbour HAS a saint - or rather a picture depicting a saint - one whose name I am unable to tell you but who may, or may not be connected to the saint of the day. Living in a very Catholic part of a Catholic country, we are treated to the celebration of a great number of Saint's Days. Today it is the day of San José - St. Joseph - the husband of Mary and, a little ironically, also the day that Spain (and Portugal and Italy) celebrates Father's Day.

Here in Alcala la Real, a Saint's Day is a good one to get the bands out on the streets - it is the purpose that practice is done every week, after all! We had intended going out this evening to listen and see the bands marching around the town. 

But we didn't need to. 

Unbeknown to us, the couple who live just across the street from us have been harbouring a saint in their front room for the past 11 months. Chosen by lottery from over 600 people in the town, the couple took responsibility for maintaining a picture surrounded by a huge, heavy and ornate silver frame. 

This takes up the greater part of their living room and they have kept it polished and decorated with fresh flowers since last April. Any member of the public who wants access to pray can have it and are welcomed into the house for the purpose. And because this saint is here, so all the bands of the town come around to play to it.

Which is why we didn't have to go anywhere to hear them. 

So far, five different bands have marched either up the road or down the road and stopped outside our kitchen. 

It's been both beautiful and bizarre. And quite loud.

At one point, I pan upwards - and was surprised not to find La Mota all lit up as usual. Caught out!


  1. Hello Annie:
    This really is most extraordinary and we have never heard of anything like it before. And what a responsibility to have to maintain the 'saint' in your own home with fresh flowers at all time and allow in the visiting public!!

    But great fun for you to have it all happening close at hand. Or so we think, from this distance!

  2. Since the photo on facebook I have been trying to work out what it might be..... I didn't get anywhere near with my guesses. It must have been fascinating to watch yesterday, but as Jane and Lance say, what a responsibility to have a saint in your home all that time. A great post Annie. x

  3. I kept thinking our neighbours must like flowers! They are extremely proud and told us that next week, or the week after, the saint will come out and be paraded through the town as part of the Semana Santa parades. We missed the arrival as we were living in the apartment at this time last year.
    In addition to the cost of maintaining the flowers, they also put on a huge spread last night for all the visiting bandmembers and passing neighbours. I had to send Ruy and Romy home as the evening wore on as they were making such a huge dent in the food! Didn't need to give them any supper though...

  4. How fascinating, Annie, and yet more proof of what a different culture you live in from me. Hosting a saint for a whole your is a BIG responsibility.

    The nearest I've come to it is the tradition of the Christmas Posada(imported from Mexico, I think) in which the crib figures move from house to house in the parish each day during Advent, ending up in the church on Christmas Eve. They do this in DD's village.

    Excellent quality video, by the way - much better than many on youTube. :-)

  5. What a responsibility you're neighbours have!

    And I thought my Sunday was noisy!

  6. Perpetua - to be honest, you could have knocked me down with a feather when we saw the 'saint'. I had no idea what to say - so far, my experiences here haven't brought me into contact with this sort of thing - so I had to go with 'Que bonito', which sort of means 'how pretty'...probably not quite the thing.
    The Christmas Posada sounds a lovely idea - a posada being a lodging place - not sure how it arrived at a village in the UK!

    And Ayak - my noisy Sunday was actually very lovely but I bet it could have drowned out Mr A's wood working!


  7. Gosh Annie a celebration and spectacle all in one!
    I enjoyed the bands enthusiasm even if I did have to turn the volume down on my PC.
    I'm curious to know how the house / family is chosen.

  8. Annie, I think the Christmas Posada idea was brought back to the Church of England by one of the missionary societies and is quite widespread. I've come across it in several parishes in different areas and yes, it's lovely.

  9. Celia - here, many people belong to local associations, many of which have their own bands, social 'clubs' and who organise their contributions to the fiestas of the town. From what I understood, the family opposite belong to one with around 600 members, from which a lottery is drawn - the 'winner' gets the saint for the year. Not all associations have such an elaborate or manifest saint but all will have an allegiance to a particular one. I've been told which one this is many times but cannot 'catch' it and I don't like to get a pen and paper out and ask yet again! It's always met with a look that implies I should know these things...

  10. Perpetua, I hadn't heard of this before but like the idea it has been around a long time. I read up the Wiki entry and suspect that the version that has reached the UK is less elaborate than that which happens in some more 'Spanish' areas. I didn't see any evidence of this happening in Alcala, but then it is olive collecting season and most people are too busy out working in the fields to be singing songs and riding donkeys around the neighbourhood! They barely stopped on Christmas Day! Still, it's nice to know. Axxx

  11. This is SUCH an education! Love it, love it, LOVE IT..... the things I am learning hopping from blog to blog......


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