A SPECIAL mass was held in Benidorm on Monday evening to commemorate the 275th anniversary of the patron saint of the town – la Virgin del Sufragio.
An 800 square metre marquee was erected at the Town Hall Square to accommodate the 1,600 attendees for the special evening mass – which had a number of high profile guests. Benidorm Mayor Agustin Navarro escorted the President of the Regional Government Alberto Fabra and Minister of Tourism Máximo Buch, both of whom arrived from Valencia especially for the occasion, as well as numerous local dignitaries.
The effigy of the Virgin rests in the blue domed San Jaime church at the top of the Old Town. She was slowly carried down and escorted through the streets by the dignitaries, fiesta queens, officials and three bands.
The mass was officiated by the vicar general of the Diocese of Orihuela-Alicante and assisted by thirteen priests. Following the mass the effigy was moved back up to the San Jaime church – all uphill and afterwards a stunning firework display was let off from the Mirador to the delight of the crowds.
The original image of the virgin is said to have arrived on a drifting boat on March 16 1740. The authorities at the time ordered that the boat be burnt to prevent any plague spreading onto land and out of the burnt wreck, a carving of the virgin was discovered by three sailors.
She was then proclaimed the Patron Saint of the town and her effigy has remained in the blue domed San Jaime church at the top of the Old Town ever since.