|History of the Sanctuary and the Day of the Slavery|
From time immemorial in Villena we celebrated, a Sunday after Natividad de Ntra. Mrs Mª of the Virtues, the festival of the Slavery, tradition this one, that has conserved as far as the celebration festive-nun, talks about, but nothing has been on, this one Brotherhood, as soon as, creation, organization, raison d'etre, operation, etc…. With complete certainty and if fear to mistake, that when the old Hermitage was elevated, the Hermit, named of its safekeeping would be made surround by devotee of the Virgin, which they were committed with this one, giving to major splendor to the cult, and administration to me, of this Hermitage.
Although the information is little, we found in the 1976 magazine Villena, a article of D. Faustino Alonso Gotor turned in the famous Confiscation of Mendizábal, and its consequences on the Ecclesiastical goods in Villena, and although with respect to this subjects he was very concise, perhaps by, the same reason (lacking of information), I believe that it is worth the trouble, the exact reproduction:
The primitive hermitage of Virgin of a the Virtues was constructed in 1497, according to consists in the municipal file, section old documents, printed folio number 69 of the File <>
This hermitage was to the care of a hermit until the year 1526, in which it was stood out of so sacred task, by the monks of the order of San Agustín (legajo<> pages 4-5 and of a small titled book Protocol of the census) Because of the confiscation the Augustinian friars were expelled from the Monastery of the Virtues in 1836, according to real order of Doña María Cristina.
Being so the Prior of the Augustinian ones was – main inspector of the Brotherhood of the Slavery, with the disappearance of him, it stopped existing the brotherhood, as the institution, whose aim had been to take care of and to praise the Cult to the Virgin and to dedicate themselves to the conservation of the Sanctuary. If the institutional life of the Brotherhood were so ligature to the one of the monks of San Agustín, is logical to deduce that, in the time, she was simultaneous his disappearance and origin. Meaning that the origin of the Brotherhood of the Slaves of Maria was in 1526, replacing that one hermit, in the care of the Sanctuary and Cult of Santa Imagen, but since then promoted the Slaves, and taken part by diverse the Priors of the Augustinian ones. This Brotherhood governed by a Hermano Mayor, I restore myself with Real approval and Pontifical and its main function, was always made as pious memory and tribute to Natividad de Ntra. Lady. This function, call of Slaves of Maria, is the one that at the moment we come celebrating <> and is one of the two celebration vote, March and September, that already Carlos I in Real Provision of 1551 mentions, according to reads in printed front page number 8 of the mentioned one << Libro years 1691-1767>>
My gratefulness towards don Faustino, to that always I have admired, and that thanks to its disinterested work, we have been able to know part our history, reason why without being Villenense one felt, it acted and it lived as VILLENERO. Here we found an official document, and that will not be last that contradicts, to the other documents also officials, we read in the book of D. Máximo García Lujan, History of the Sanctuary, Chapter II: that when disappearing the plague that the City had suffered and that had left it decimated, the Council in the name of the City makes two Votes to the Virgin in thanksgiving <> writes father Matheo García in his Protocol of Property, the first vote will be celebrated the 25 of March, festival of the Announcement, and the second the 8 of September festival of the Nativity of the Virgin. The Council had the obligation to give to eat the clergy, friars and to the poor men. The votes were being celebrated without interruption until year 1866, that I am only celebrated the one of March in the Sanctuary, since it was the first time that was engaged in the Virgin to the city to celebrate its celebration day 8 of September, and here am celebrated the vote.
With complete certainty, it is of supposing, that the Brotherhood collaborated with the celebration of these votes pilgrimages, and would even take advantage of the one September for also celebrates its day reason why when suppressing the pilgrimage of September in the Sanctuary is when the Brotherhood decides to follow with the tradition to celebrate this one second Pilgrimage, and for that reason it chooses to do it the Sunday next to the one of the Nativity, as we celebrated it at present, although opinion to be that, in the 23rd century, already it was celebrated this way, according to we can read in the small book of José Zapater and Ugeda HISTORY OF the NTRA IMAGE MRS OF the VIRTUES, in chapter XI we read: INDULGENCES GRANTED TO THE VIRGIN OF THE VIRTUES.
From the appearance of Santa Imagen of Our Lady of the Virtues, it is of supposition that would be created some dedicated brotherhood to flatter and to promote the cult of the Employer of Villena; but we have not found authentic data on the date and other antecedents of that brotherhood, and which only consists that from time immemorial the well-known association with the name of the “Slaves of Our Lady of the Virtues” existed, whose association rendered its annual cults to the Employer in later Sunday immediate to the 8 of September, and therefore this day with the name of “day of the slavery” is known, in since already there are saying, takes place the pilgrimage of which we have spoken previously.
With the intention of promoting this cult, Its Clement XII Sanctity granted to the Slaves of Our Lady of the thank you very much spiritual Virtues, and especially the following: Plenary indulgence and remission of all sins to all the faithfuls who, confessed and agreed, register as slaves of Our Lady in the day in which they verified it; the same grace to all the slaves of both sexes that, in the article of the death, after confessed and agreed, or not being able, with true contrition will invoke the Sweetest Name of Jesus with the language or the heart, if they could not speak.
The same grace which in the day of the Sweet Name of Maria, confessed and agreed, they would visit the church of the convent from the first eves to the putting of the sun of the next day, asking to God by the happy state of the Church, peace between the Christian princes, and by the conversion of the unfaithful ones, sinful heretics and.
Seven years and seven groups of forty of indulgences which with equal dispositions, they visited this church and they requested in the same way in term the indicated, first day of Passover of the Spirit Santo, the day of Natividad de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, the day of the Natividad de María Santísima and the day of the Announcement of Our Lady.
Sixty days of pardon by whenever the enslaved referred ones attended the divine offices, or santo sacrifice of the Mass, either would hear in that one church some sermon or talks private, or another devotee exercise skewbald and of which this sanctuary and convent become in; other sixty days by whenever some pilgrim is stayed, the charity with some poor man is exercised, peace between enemies is put, or it is asked for that another one reconciles to which they are discordant; other sixty days by whenever any person attends the burial of any slave or another person, accompanying them to the grave; to general or particular processions, to the Santísimo Sacramento, thus in the processions as when one takes to the patients; to that oyendo the bell of the Travel allowance one, shelp Padrenuestro and Ave María by the souls of the slaves.
Other sixty days of remission of injunctis penitentiis to which it reduces to another one to the true way of the salvation, or teaches to the rules of our Santa Fe and the mysteries to him that are necessary to secure our eternal salvation, or is exercised in any charity or mercy work of, whose spiritual grace was granted by each of these works.
Also it granted S.S to remove soul from slave of the Purgatory by each Mass that was shelp in the Altar of Our Lady of the Virtues and it would be applied by the soul of this slave, in the day of the Commemoration of the deceased and in all their eighth, and in any Monday of the year, having to have bula of the Holy Crusaders to gain these spiritual thanks.
All the Prelates of the diocese of Cartagena and whatever have visited the Image of Our Lady of the Virtues, they have granted indulgences to him, and among others he granted to say a Hail mary in front of this Image, one hundred days Cardinal Borja; forty D. Antonio de Medina Chacón; another forty D. Tomás José de Montes, and the same number D. Pedro de Losa, D. Victoriano López Gonzalo. This last one extended this grace to that they will say Salve to our Employer, requesting to God by the glorification of our Santa Madre Iglesia; and D. Félix Herrero and Valverde, Bishop of Orihuela, also granted forty days of indulgence to all the faithfuls who will say Salve, forty by a Hail mary; and other forty to that they will say the purest Ave María in front of this Santa Imagen.
Finally, our beloved masterful and almost of the same country Cardinal Payá, Archbishop of Santiago, when arriving at Villena in 1882 from return of Benejama, its native country, also granted one hundred days of indulgence by each Salve that says María Santísima of the Virtues; thanks that also day 20 had granted already in the same terms of August of 1880 the Ilustrísimo Mr. D. Mariano Alguacil, then Bishop of Murcia and that visited Santa Imagen in that one date.
These are spiritual thanks, of which we have knowledge, even though is very logical to suppose that many by the Prelates will have been granted other who in the course of the centuries have visited the convent of the Virtues; that convent that in his had abundant goods pingües gold rents, precious jewels and silver, rich ornaments, good and chosen library, and owned censuses, cattles majors and minors, properties of all classes, and today is an emaciated skeleton, but that locks up the hope of the children of Villena in Santa Imagen which they venerate as a Mother and Lawyer.
Pope Clemente XII exerted its Pontificate between 1730-1740, and it accidentally is in these dates, perhaps due to the first indulgences, when in the Own book of number 4, it begins to have the news, in municipal acts, of this one Brotherhood, according to Libro de D. Máximo García Lujan chapter XXIV, SLAVES DE MARIA, that reference does, to the writings in which authorization is requested, to the advice to celebrate the festival of the Slavery, the last time (and I mention very textually) that is spoken in books of the City council, of the Brotherhood is in the session that celebrates the 23 of August of i766 in that the following agreement is taken: The day is seen a memorial given ‘by the Brotherhood of the Slavery of Our Lady of the Virtues, by which it is asked for to be able to remove the Image from Our Lady in procession around the stone cross of his convent, that celebrates this celebration, that it is Sunday following to Natividad de Nuestra Señora and the City council decides to grant the permission to them.
Peculiarly all the documents agree, and give by fact, the one that was created a Brotherhood, to take care of and to collaborate with the cult to the Virgin, and the only explanation that is happened to me, pair to justify, the shortage of data about this one, is that their creation and beginning to the being provoked by the own devotee faithfuls, it lacked official recognition, and there its omission, on the part of the Council that always defended, to be the undoubted Employer, whereas clause to the Brotherhood as, dependent organization and of support to the Augustinian Friars, who ran the Sanctuary.
It is not to be strange, seeing this indulgences, that if the brotherhood had followed with its work, in Villena SANTO MARIANO would be celebrated the YEAR whenever the 12 of September festival of the SWEET NAME DE MARIA, would fall in Sunday, but although the news of the Brotherhood do not exist after these dates, is clear that this one gypsy dialect very deep in the Villenenses, that continued celebrating their festival, and when the City council I create the Meeting of the Virgin, between his assignments it appears the celebration of this one festival.:
This first Together one as soon as a year lasted because it was dissolved by the City council by the inefficiency of his management, but a month later in May of 1840 a new called Meeting is created Mixed formed by two councillors and four people of outside the City council and that would follow with the same bases that the previous Meeting, reserving to the City council the right of Patronazgo, what was the one to appoint chaplain and To move the Sacred Image.
These Meetings were not other people's, to the political instability of the date, between 1834-1837 Villena change 7 times of Mayor, repelling this one instability in their operation, in this year of 1837, being Mayor D. Pedro López Chapi and the Martinez of the Corral, uncle of the distinguished villenense Teacher, a group of Villenenses, arranged to remake the Meeting of the Virgin secure that day 14 of May, met in extraordinary Town hall the components of the City council, with the purpose of reading a memorial presented by D. Juan Antonio Cervera, D. Cristóbal and D. Trinidad Mergelina, D. Antonio Fernández de Palencia, D. Rafael Selva and D. Antonio Hernández Gabaldón, who exposes, that before numerous the obligations, that the corporation has, which prevent to dedicate themselves them and to be interested properly, by the rents, they are commited to administer it, giving annual account with position and dates to the corporation, etc….Mayor-President, connoisseur who the applicants were old members of the missing person, Brotherhood of the Slaves of Maria, and which they even had a Hermano Mayor D. José Cisneros, animated to that they transformed that one Brotherhood into Meeting of the Virgin, writing up common to agreement the following Chapters to them:
With these last norms we found the link between Meeting of the Virgin and the Brotherhood of the Slavery, but I insist, this one Brotherhood was completely independent, his great day, and solemn although at first, pilgrimage agreed with 2ª vote that is to say, the 8 of September is from its creation and by antonomasia the 12 of September, or Sunday following to the Nativity, if the own one falls between week, another important data, to maintain my hypothesis, we found it, since we have been able to see in municipal acts, in the shortage of referring data to the Brotherhood, peculiarly, and calls much to me the attention, the fervor with which all the Councils, have defended from always, the Patronazgo, and the being only, the authorized one in naming, a bailiff, or an older brother, ordered to celebrate votes both pilgrimage, and that in diverse occasions, has defended, their privilege, not only before the Prior of the convent, or before the parish priests of Villena, also did the own thing with the high hierarchies of the Church, and even of the Nation.
On the other hand, he is peculiar that the majority of the indulgences, granted by Popes and Bishops, is granted, to the acts celebrated and promoted by the Slaves of Maria, and not therefore the celebrated ones by the Councils. finally and to finish, at present, little it has changed, although the day of Voto, that is celebrated to Sunday following to the one of resurrection to fall the day of Announcement 25 of March, 1º of both perpetual votes, in Lent, and 2º perpetual vote we celebrated it every year at the time 8º of September, celebrations Majors, for more glory; of all it is known that although the one is the Meeting of the Virgin that mainly is in charge of this celebrations 2ª, to do it in name in representation of the City council, not therefore the celebration of the Slavery, Marian celebration, organized by the Meeting of the Virgin.
Really, although with slight discrepancies, perhaps due to the shortage of data, and to the tenacity of the Slaves of Maria, to continue celebrating its festival in its dates, this one has taken hollow therefore official naturalization paper, occupying left, by the change, that varied the form of celebration of 2ª Pilgrimage vote, thus following with the tradition of which at least twice to the year the town of Villena, represented by its institutions, praises to its Excelsa Employer, with two Pilgrimages vote, as at the time the Council promised, in thanksgiving.
Author: Pepe Galbis
Source: Together of the Virgin