Virgen de los Desamparados Festival
Every second Sunday in May thousands of faithful congregate in the Virgen plaza (Virgin square) and surrounding areas to pay homage to the “Virgen de los Desamparados” (Virgin of the Forsaken), the Valencian Community and Valencia city’s patron saint.
The history refers us to 1409, when Fray Gilaberto Jofré, after defending a mentally ill person who was being mistreated, he encouraged the foundation of what would be Europe’s first psychiatric hospital, under the advocacy of the “Virgen de los Santos Inocentes” (Virgin of the Holy Innocents), name with which these ill people were designated.
In 1416, a gothic image would be made of “papier-mâché” so as not to be heavy, in order it couldbe placed on the coffin of those who died in the hospital and others who were defenseless. For this reason, over time, in 1493, King Ferdinand “The Catholic” would grant the title “Virgen de los Santos Inocentes Mártires y de los Desamparados” (Virgin of the Holy Innocent Martyrs and the Forsaken).
That image was growing in devotion towards her and proceeded to be placed on an altar. And despite the passage of the centuries, that same image is the one that still presently presides in the “Basílica de los Desamparados” of Valencia. Its inclination is due to its origins having been created to be carried lying on a cushion. Hence, the name “La Geperudeta” (“The Chepadita”, in Castilian) that is received on the part of the Valencians with all their affection.
Whether, at any time of the year, the basilica that guards her all year round deserves a visit for its artistic and religious interest, but primarily on this very special day when the Virgin is moved while the population acclaim her. This image will always remain in your memory.
Prominent events of this festivity:
On Friday 12th May (from 23:00 hrs.) and on Saturday 13th May (from 12:00 hrs.) the traditional ‘Dansà’, a typical Valencian dance, is celebrated.
On Sunday 14th May, at 10:30 hrs.: Transfer of the Virgin from the “Basílica de los Desamparados” to Valencia Cathedral.
At 18.30 hrs.: General procession through the Carmen neighborhood to the basilica’s main altar.