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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday along with hundreds of other alcalainos and alcalainas I went on a "camino" from the town to the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Santos 6 km away, where the image of Our Lady was paraded round the olive groves. This particular version of the Virgin Mary is the patroness of our village and she is much revered. The whole thing was a massive party, starting at 7 a.m. and lots of singing and drinking en route, some women in their flamenco dresses and lots of pilgrims on horseback.

I am a non-believer but I am quite fascinated by the distinction between the established Catholic church and the devotion to "Our Lady" in this part of the world. I believe it is because she is seen as the caring mother-figure who answers your prayers, whereas the priests mainly dish out punishment and threats of eternal damnation. In fact historically the poor have had a pretty rough deal from the Church, which has always taken the side of the middle and upper classes. Does anyone else have any views on this?

Lots of photos on Flickr if you're interested.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alcalaina/
 

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A friend lives on the route of the one at Coin and it's great to watch. They all camp over for the night. I suspect that like Christmas most of the old religious meaning has gone.
 

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Yesterday along with hundreds of other alcalainos and alcalainas I went on a "camino" from the town to the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Santos 6 km away, where the image of Our Lady was paraded round the olive groves. This particular version of the Virgin Mary is the patroness of our village and she is much revered. The whole thing was a massive party, starting at 7 a.m. and lots of singing and drinking en route, some women in their flamenco dresses and lots of pilgrims on horseback.

I am a non-believer but I am quite fascinated by the distinction between the established Catholic church and the devotion to "Our Lady" in this part of the world. I believe it is because she is seen as the caring mother-figure who answers your prayers, whereas the priests mainly dish out punishment and threats of eternal damnation. In fact historically the poor have had a pretty rough deal from the Church, which has always taken the side of the middle and upper classes. Does anyone else have any views on this?

Lots of photos on Flickr if you're interested.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alcalaina/[/QUOTE

We pray to Mary for help and assistance, as we do other saints, however Mary is seen as special as she was the spouse of the holy ghost and the mother of Christ but more importantly she is see as a mortal on earth rather than some celestial angel

Understanding Catholic Devotion to Mary - Prayers - Catholic Online


We hold the virgin mother in high regard........and pray to her for help but it's important to be distinct we do not worship the Virgin Mary we only worship god.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We pray to Mary for help and assistance, as we do other saints, however Mary is seen as special as she was the spouse of the holy ghost and the mother of Christ but more importantly she is see as a mortal on earth rather than some celestial angel

Understanding Catholic Devotion to Mary - Prayers - Catholic Online

We hold the virgin mother in high regard........and pray to her for help but it's important to be distinct we do not worship the Virgin Mary we only worship god.
That's the official Catholic view though. Yesterday I spoke to people who said they didn't believe in God but they still think Maria can answer their petitions. It's more superstition than religion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I had always thought it was the Catholic faith in general that revered the virgin Mary, not just "this part of the world"
Do other Catholic countries have pilgrimages like the one to El Rocio, in Andalucía, attracting up to a million people each June? I know there are personal pilgrimages to places like Lourdes, but I found it a pretty solemn place when I went there, apart from the souvenir shops. Certainly nothing like the festive atmosphere found in Southern Spain.
 

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Do other Catholic countries have pilgrimages like the one to El Rocio, in Andalucía, attracting up to a million people each June? I know there are personal pilgrimages to places like Lourdes, but I found it a pretty solemn place when I went there, apart from the souvenir shops. Certainly nothing like the festive atmosphere found in Southern Spain.
One of the biggest Catholic pilgrimages is to Santiago de Compostela and TBH it's not to totally date restricted. People from as far away as Australia undertake pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and there are no end of routes through Europe that ultimately lead there. That said, I believe the degree of faith is probably far higher in Spain and Portugal. Lourdes actually attracts pilgrims all year round (estimates suggest between 4 and 6 million p.a.). There is certainly no festival atmosphere.
 

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Yes, I had always thought it was the Catholic faith in general that revered the virgin Mary, not just "this part of the world"
Sorry misunderstood

I'm not sure, Mexico does

Romeria – Zapopan Religious Festival | On The Road In Mexico


That's the official Catholic view though. Yesterday I spoke to people who said they didn't believe in God but they still think Maria can answer their petitions. It's more superstition than religion.
But you can say that about any belief if the believer is not of the faith...... There are many saints a within the catholic religion who can/supposedly answer prayer and petitions. Plenty of non budhists rub Buddhas belly!


That said, I believe the degree of faith is probably far higher in Spain and Portugal. Lourdes actually attracts pilgrims all year round (estimates suggest between 4 and 6 million p.a

What about South America.....
 

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I actually thought I'd post about Lourdes because, despite what Marine Le Pen and her ilk would have you think, France is not (at least officially) a Catholic country (hasn't been for centuries) and actually has a great many non-believers - remember, 'laïcité' is a core concept in the French constitution. I think if I wanted to find atheists and agnostics, France would be a pretty good place to start :)
 

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I actually thought I'd post about Lourdes because, despite what Marine Le Pen and her ilk would have you think, France is not (at least officially) a Catholic country (hasn't been for centuries) and actually has a great many non-believers - remember, 'laïcité' is a core concept in the French constitution. I think if I wanted to find atheists and agnostics, France would be a pretty good place to start :)
I had not thought of that, I just presumed France was catholic!
 

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Do other Catholic countries have pilgrimages like the one to El Rocio, in Andalucía, attracting up to a million people each June? I know there are personal pilgrimages to places like Lourdes, but I found it a pretty solemn place when I went there, apart from the souvenir shops. Certainly nothing like the festive atmosphere found in Southern Spain.
Poland must have thousands of these pilgrimages, some small and local, others on a vast scale. Other countries in Eastern Europe, such as Hungary and Slovakia still cling stubbornly to religious faith and practice, in spite of repression under socialism.
The Virgin Mary is referred to in Poland as 'Mother of Poland' and Catholicism is strongly identified with nationalism.
The Church as an institution may be thought to be supportive of the middle and upper classes but that is a generalisation and not so in specific cases. Catholic social teaching has been the foundation of Christian socialism since the end of the nineteenth century. Liberation theology has been inspirational in the struggle against oppressive regimes in central and southern America.
Individual priests in Spain and elsewhere have identified in word and deed with the have nots in society. Nuns, priests and lay Catholics have suffered and died in the struggle against repressive regimes.
It does seem as if the Catholic Church in Spain is less enlightened than in other countries. But it should be remembered that many Spaniards share these views and that the believer/ non believer divide doesn't follow class lines. In fact, 'middle class' people are more likely to hold agnostic views .
Our village Romeria is held on May 1st. Our patron saint is San Isidor Labrador and his effigy is taken after Mass in our little church on a decorated cart in procession with horses, other decorated carts and locals in traditional dress along the riverside track to a clearing where local families have staked out casitas and a stage and bar are set up. Merriment continues until late at night. The village itself looks as if a plague has struck it.
Our church is packed for each Mass. it's small, beautiful. I sometimes sit in there just to enjoy the tranquility. I learned recently that the roof collapsed in 1968 so the villagers must have incurred the wrath of God for sinful behaviour.
I'm Catholic and totally not into saints, statues and so on but for decades I wore an ancient silver medallion of the Virgin which belonged to my Irish grandmother. I was very upset when the chain broke and I lost it.
 

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Sorry misunderstood

I'm not sure, Mexico does

Romeria – Zapopan Religious Festival | On The Road In Mexico




But you can say that about any belief if the believer is not of the faith...... There are many saints a within the catholic religion who can/supposedly answer prayer and petitions. Plenty of non budhists rub Buddhas belly!





What about South America.....
There seems to be a human need to believe in something whether a transcendental religion, Christianity, Islam etc. or a secular faith like socialism, fascism or humanism.
Both secular and transcendental faiths share many similarities such as 'sacred' texts and songs, saints / martyrs, sacred places, processions, a belief in a better world whether on earth or after death.
For many people their faith is something to hold fast to in a world of chance, contingency, where we have lost control.
In a few hundred years it may well be that the Enlightenment will be seen as just another period in history and humankind will revert to more ancient habits of thought and belief....
 

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There may be some Nuns and Priests who have stood up to oppression but overall the Catholic church has colluded with facists and other regimes. Franco put them in control of education in Spain which led to the sacking...and worse of many teachers. Children of republicans were handed over to Nuns and there are many stories about this.

Not religious at all but feel a bit full when I hear some of the popular hymns, not sure why but probably a reminder of childhood when all seemed much simpler.
 
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