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History and Literature

Virgin of the Head

Virgin of the Head
History and Literature


The devotion to the Blessed Virgin of the Head dates back to the apparition of the Virgin on the Cerro del Cabezo, near the town of Andújar, in Jaén, in 1227. A pastor of Colomera (Granada), named Juan Alonso Rivas, appeared their cattle, goats and sheep, in the heights of Sierra Morena next to the top of the Cabezo. He was a simple and fervent Christian, perhaps something entered in years and was suffering from an ankylosis or total paralysis in the left arm. The luminaries that he saw at night on the hill near where he had his herd and which added the ringing of a bell began to attract his attention. Finally, he wanted to get out of doubt and on the night of August 11-12, the year 1,227 decided to reach the summit. To his natural fear an expression of amazement and joy followed, because in the hollow formed by two huge blocks of granite, he found a small image of the Virgin, before whose presence the shepherd knelt and prayed loudly engaging in a dialogue with the Lady .

The Blessed Image expressed his desire for a temple to be erected there, sending it to the city, to announce the event and show everyone the recovery of the movement in his arm and thus give credit to his words. He went down to the city and announced the event that they had no choice but to believe before the testimony of his healed arm.


For Terrones Robles (1657), a few days after the Holy Image appeared, a Brotherhood was erected and founded in its name and dedication and in which almost all the city's neighbors entered by brotherhoods. Of the same opinion is Salcedo Olid (1677), contemporary of Terrones Robles and first historian of Ntra. Mrs. of the Head, who also affirms that the Iliturgitana Brotherhood had its base and foundation in the commission of neighbors, appointed by the Council local, to bring the miraculous Image to Andújar and adds, that since then this commission was in charge of the administration of the party and its Sanctuary, occupying these managerial positions gentlemen of any lineage.

Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and given the fame of miraculous Image, the devotion to the Stma. Virgen de la Cabeza will be growing, also increasing, the number of brothers and pilgrims who attended their pilgrimage annually, being the oldest known. According to Salcedo Olid, for his celebration, the town of Andújar elected annually the prioste, mayors and deputies who were to organize and direct the party, as well as appoint the rector and chaplains of the Sanctuary, without any authority could intervene in these appointments and elections.


It is in the sixteenth century, where we find the first known statutes of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Head of Andújar and dating from 1505, when the illustrious bishop of Jaén, confirmed the statutes by which the Brotherhood had been in force for two hundred years; later in 1557 and 1565, the ruling bishops solemnly confirmed the approval made of their predecessor. Through this and other documents, we know that the Brotherhood had a marked assistance character with its brothers and patients of the Hospital of Our Lady of the Head who also ruled and ruled in Andújar. In this place towards the Brotherhood their councils or boards and, in the Hermitage built there, celebrated their party on the first Sunday of May after the celebration in the mountains (last Sunday of April). With the arrival of the 17th century, the pilgrimage reached its maximum splendor. The devotion to the Blessed Virgin is revealed throughout the centuries by writers such as Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega or Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

Since the appearance of the Image there are many Brotherhoods that were formed throughout Spain until the 69 that existed in the seventeenth century and that once passed the hundred. The Royal Brotherhood Matrix of Andújar is the main of all the existing ones, they have as headline the Virgin of the Head. At present there are more than 80 Brotherhoods and some that are in formation or reconstitution.


Already in the eighteenth century, the Brotherhood of Andújar ceases in the exclusive administration of the Sanctuary in 1703, and the Royal Council of Castile, during the reign of Carlos III, suspended and dissolved the Brotherhoods prohibiting the celebration of Romerías on the Hill in 1773, which significantly affected the Brotherhood that lost most of its brothers. After requesting its replacement, on May 24, 1782, the King repealed the provisions and the new Statutes of the Iliturgitan Corporation were approved.

During the 19th century, the French invasion and, above all, the suppression of the Brotherhoods of all Spain during the Mendiazabal government and the confiscation of all their property by the decree of confiscation of the Espartero cabinet, in 1841, further diminished the Brotherhood, which on April 24, 1844 he requested SAR Isabel II the restoration of the Sanctuary and Image of the Stma. Virgin signing the decree of restitution in December of that year. Subsequently, S.M. She is named Perpetual Elder Sister and grants the title of Royal to the Brotherhood.

In the twentieth century, in 1930, the PP. Trinitarians assume the care of the Royal Shrine by decision of the bishopric of Jaén, and it is during the Civil War in 1936, when the fact that has deeply marked the Brotherhood of Andújar, the practical destruction of the Shrine and especially the disappearance of the Image takes place of the Stma. Virgin. After the war, a new Image is made and the Sanctuary is rebuilt, thus resurfacing the pilgrimage with the same force as always, and of course its Matrix Brotherhood.

By the bull of Pope Saint Pius X, in 1909, the Canonical Coronation of the Virgin of the Head is decreed and officially appointed Patroness of Andújar, and by the bull of 1959 of which Pope John XXIII was also saint, his patronage is declared on the Diocese of Jaén, celebrating a coronation of relief in 1960. In 2001, the Junta de Andalucía, granted to the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Head, Andújar, the gold medal of Andalusia. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI granted the Virgin of the Head the Golden Rose, being the highest pontifical distinction and the first in favor of an image of the Blessed Virgin in Spain. In 2010 the Sanctuary of the Virgin receives the cataloging of the Minor Sanctuary.

From:, publicado por Devociones de Estepas

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