Pilgrimage of the Virgen de la Cabeza

Located in a magnificent landscape of the Sierra de Andújar, with a Mediterranean forest nestled in the natural park of the same name, we find a church on a hill that dominates an entire area and seems to come out of other times. It is the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza, the place of veneration of the oldest pilgrimage in Spain and where the virgin is venerated since the 13th century, shortly after the conquest of Christian troops and the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.

The Marian invocation begins with the appearance of the virgin to a pastor, which gave rise to a pilgrimage that began immediately. A virgin with medieval Gothic dyes was created and modeled and the first sanctuary of protection and place of rest of the virgin was built.

This sanctuary suffered the ravages of time for several centuries and the construction that has come to current days corresponds to the restoration of the great Renaissance architect Andrés de Vandelvira back in the sixteenth century.

The virgin was crowned by papal bull in 1909 being patron of Andújar and later in 1959 by Pope John XXIII patron of the archdiocese of Jaén. Comment that this double recognition came because during the Civil War in which the sanctuary was almost destroyed, the original image of medieval origin was lost forever, and had to be replaced by another that was also crowned canonically.

The celebration of the pilgrimage takes place on the last Sunday of April, in which the brotherhoods of the whole of Spain as well as the titular brotherhood of Andújar, make a pilgrimage to the hill where the Marian shrine is located.

The brotherhoods are received by the mayor of the town that begins a procession of promotion.

However today the medieval image is not seen, Virgin of the present Head of the XX century, it is a carving of polychrome cedar wood of Byzantine style, where the mother of God is presented seated on a small seat without support and holding the Child Jesus. The image was made by the sculptor Navas Parejo.

The usual image of the Virgin is wearing a tight crimson tunic with a small cingulate of vertical lines in the Hebrew style, with blue gold mantles in allusion to the incarnation and her immaculate conception and with a white headdress that reveals her dark hair. It falls on your shoulders.

Throughout its history it dresses and has dressed mantles embroidered by the centenary, or other exceptional events and when the pilgrimage takes place it is crowned with the queen Crown.

Friday is the day of the reception of the mayor of Andújar to the brotherhoods and departures of the nominal brotherhood, the brotherhoods make the offerings to the virgin and the prayer of the salve is performed before the departure to the Sanctuary.
The beginning is on Saturday with the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary at Cerro del Cabezo through the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park. The Romeros will travel by cart or horse organized in familiar clubs and friends early to the Basilica and Royal Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza by the Camino Viejo accompanying the Brotherhood in procession. The first stop will be made in San Ginés, where there is a hermitage dedicated to the Virgen de la Cabeza. The second will be in Lugar Nuevo, a farm on the banks of the Jandula River. This is where the pilgrims join the Sanctuary through the aforementioned Camino Viejo in mule, horse or cart where thousands of people to enjoy a day of countryside where typical dishes of the area such as wild meat, meat with tomato, flamenquín and all kinds of sausages.
The arrival to the Sanctuary happens the same Saturday afternoon and there, in houses of brotherhoods, rocks, carts and in tents overnight staying awaiting the departure of La Morenita on Sunday morning, first thing in the morning. of the temple announce at noon, the culminating moment of the pilgrimage, the procession of the Blessed Virgin of the Head. where there will be a mass and a procession around the sanctuary and the surrounding áreas.