Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Fiesta de la Virgen de la Paloma, Madrid 2022

The church of the Virgen de la Paloma (Virgin of the Dove) in the La Latina neighbourhood of Madrid holds its annual festival in August each year.  In 2022 this ran from 6-15 August, with the main events involving flowers taking place on the final two days.

On Sunday 14 people were invited to bring offerings of flowers to the church, and many people of all ages, some with flowers, queued outside and inside the church.  Although it was requested that white flowers were preferred, this request seems to have been largely ignored.  The offered flowers were removed to the church’s vestry, and it’s unknown what subsequently happened to them.

On the following afternoon the float which would carry the painting of the Virgin on its front and a depiction of  its discovery in 1787 was abundantly decorated with flowers, obviously bought in for the purpose, and not the ones donated the previous day.  In the meantime the painting had been removed from its usual place, above the main altar, and placed beside the altar so that people could pay their respects to it.

At 8 p.m. a lengthy procession left from the front of the church to make a slow journey around the local streets.  A large number of  people watched both from the pavements and from their balconies, some of the latter throwing rose petals over the float as it passed.  On at least two occasions the processions stopped, once for the fire brigade to spray the crowd with foam and provide display of gymnastics on their ropes, and once for people in madrileños costume to perform traditional dances.

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