TRADITION requires Jose Ignacio Munilla, Orihuela-Alicante’s new bishop, to enter Orihuela on a white donkey.
Munilla will enter the city on February 12 in accordance with a custom that goes back to 1605 after lunching on Arroz y Costra (Rice with a Crust) in Cox and passing through Callosa and Redovan before visiting the San Anton chapel.
Here the new bishop will be provided with a white donkey and ride through the Palmeral palm forest into Orihuela via the Puerta de la Olma gate.
On arriving at the old entrance to the city, the mayor is required to ask, “Who goes there?” to which Munilla should reply, “The bishop of Orihuela.”
He will then dismount, pray at the altar installed for the occasion and walk in procession to the cathedral.
According to diocese sources, Munilla intends to complete the traditional ritual although the Cambiamos party is demanding that Orihuela city hall should neither organise the event nor pay for it.
“Orihuela is the host and will welcome the bishop,” declared Fiestas councillor Mariola Rocamora. “It could not be otherwise.”
Meanwhile, city hall is desperately seeking a white donkey which sources said is proving difficult. Neither will it come cheap, as city hall paid €2,000 to hire the donkey that carried Munilla’s predecessor Jesus Murgui 10 years earlier.