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THE ‘HOLY FACE’ OF SANTA FAZ

The main altar being erected outside the monastery

We all know how much they enjoy their fiesta’s and religious festivals in Spain with the recent Easter celebrations amply demonstrating their faithfulness.

Well now for Santa Faz, a pilgrimage that is unique to this part of the country, one of the most important in the Alicante when over two hundred thousand people walk on the second Thursday after Easter from Alicante to San Juan.
Throughout the today and tomorrow thousands of pilgrims will visit the 15th century monastery where the holy Santa Faz relic is kept, a linen sheet on which Christ’s face is depicted, with a single tear falling from the right eye.
The relic that was brought over from The Vatican in the 15th century by a Franciscan priest, padre Villafranca , and according to popular tradition, is the fabric with which Veronica dried the bleeding face of Jesus on the Way of the Cross.
The Santa Faz relic is kept in a special room behind the main altarpiece in the Santa Faz Monastery, the Monastery of the Holy Face, and onThursday approximately 300,000 thousand residents of the Alicante region will make the Peregrina de la Santa Faz pilgrimage, the second most popular pilgrimage in Spain.
Starting out at 8 o’clock in the morning from the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the route to the Monastery is walked in about two and a half hours.
All of the participants carry a cane with a sprig of Rosemary at the top and, mainly following the Avenida de Denia, walk the 8km. There are stops along the route where you can sample the mistela (sweet wine) and the Alicante anise rolls. It is tradition to wear a black shirt and a neckerchief with Alicante colours: white and blue and of course comfortable shoes and a sun hat are a must.
Once the pilgrimage arrives at the monastery at about 10:30, there will be a mass in honour of the relic in which the pilgrims beg for mercy from the relic. Then there are buses to transport you back to the centre of Alicante or you can stay and enjoy a picnic or visit the craft market which accompanies this 500 year old tradition.
Preparation for the arrival in Santa Faz of the pilgrims got underway last week with local council workers erecting the outdoor stage on which Thursday’s mass will be celebrated. Once the stage was in place the workers then moved began to assemble “the paraeta” where pilgrims will be offered traditional anise rolls accompanied by mistela.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/46963/

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