It is assumed that the image of Our Lady of Zocueca has been moved from its original location. Its cult is connected to the large and powerful city of Oreto, during the Visigoth domination, between 320-330 AD.
With the invasion of Spain by Muslims in 713, the entire Hispano-Visigothic organization disappeared and, with it, the Bishop of Oreto. Some of the inhabitants of Oreto flee, while others decided to remain under Muslim rule, which respects their language, customs and religion in exchange for certain taxes. These “Mozarabes” Christians continue to venerate the Virgin Mary during the Muslim period.
What remained of the old and illustrious city was given the Arabic name “Zuqueca”, which means “place of ruins”, a term that for centuries will remain bound with the name of Mary. The Mozarabic Christians, with great sacrifices since they were poor people, and thanks to the donations collected with the indulgences issued by Pope Sixtus IV, were able to build up the present existing temple in 1632.
THE IMAGE OF OUR LADY
Francisco de Mora, Bailen’s Deputy Parish Priest, said that this image was certainly created by Saint Luke with cedar wood. In August 1936, the Civil War began and the sacred image of the Virgin of Zocueca was ruined by an ax. After the war, Mrs. Dolores Sanmartin Ochoa donated a new image of Our Lady, located today in the Sanctuary of El Rumblar.
The current image is the work of the sculptor José María Alcacer, who managed to reproduce a perfect and faithful copy of the original. The size is small, about 50 cm. Five precious dresses were donated to the Virgin, one of which, red, was given by Isabella II, while the Duke of Bailen made one of white velvet with gold embroidery.
The origin of the Zocueca Sanctuary dates back to the medieval period. The original sanctuary was renovated in the 15th century, but the current building was completed only in the 17th century. The coronation feast is celebrated every July 20.
FEAST IN HONOR of the Virgin of Zocueca
This tradition derives from the year 1681, when due to a cholera epidemic the devotees of the Virgin of Zocueca raised prayers and supplications to be freed from the evil that devastated the entire region, proposing as a vow also a fast on the day before the feast.
This vow was made on one’s knees with the hands on the Gospels, starting with the Mayor and his wife.
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