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Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope), Calasparra, Murcia, Spain

Commemorated on September 18
Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope), Calasparra, Murcia, Spain
The Shrine of Our Lady of Hope, located in Calasparra, city of the Diocese of Cartagena (Spain), is the third most visited shrine in Spain and the tenth of the whole Catholic world. 
The origin of this devotion starts with finding the legendary image inside the cave, when a pastor sought refuge.
The miraculous nature of the image remains in force to this day, being a witness hundreds of devotees lining the walls of the chamber adjacent to the chapel of the Virgin
Calasparra is a small city located in the Northwestern region of Murcia, mountainous territory in the Segura River and its tributaries have molded a landscape that presents from deep canyons surrounded by forests, fertile plains to garden.
In fact the name has crossed borders Calasparra therefore the famous rice produced in the area (designation of origin), for the extraordinary enclave temple dedicated to his patron. La Virgen de la Esperanza is venerated since ancient times in a natural cave carved by the Segura, 5 kilometers from the urban core, constituting at present one of the most visited Marian shrines in the country.
The origin of this devotion starts with finding the legendary image inside the cave , when a pastor sought refuge. The fact was immediately communicated to the calasparreñas authorities who arranged the transfer size to the city in order to place it in one of the churches of the town.
Miraculously, the image acquired a disproportionate weight in relation to their small size when they tried to get her out of the cave, which was to be interpreted that the place chosen by the Virgin for veneration. 's piece is a small bust of Maria woodcarving, known for it from the start with the nickname "The Pequeñica". The reason is unknown and when he leant to this primitive carving large image of Our Lady, a sculpture itself baroque dress Murcia.
There are documents that already have this provision in 1786, venerándose together (the old at the feet of the other) and thus constituting an unusual case in Marian iconography.
Since the seventeenth century, the existence of an important shrine in the place of the occurrence, to which many pilgrimages flocked Calasparra the citizens and other surrounding villages since time immemorial is documented.
The miraculous nature of the image remains in force to this day, being a witness hundreds of devotees lining the walls of the chamber attached to the chapel of the Virgin. The temple has undergone many changes throughout its history, but the spectacular the building is mainly given by where you are.
Our Lady of Hope officially holds the sponsorship City Calasparra on since 1840 , a title that would come to share with Saints Abdon and Senen. The Canonical Coronation of the patron was held September 8, 1996.
The festivities in his honor mainly focus on the celebration of a mass pilgrimage to the holy night of September 7, bringing thousands of worshipers to commemorate the day, the feast of the Virgin. Also on September 18, another celebration is held.
The size does not abandon his temple on this occasion, since the faithful are flocking to the sanctuary to worship. Yes an annual transfer of the patron saint is carried to Calasparra, but this takes place the first Sunday in May, returning to the sanctuary in procession after spending a month in the city exposed to the cult of the faithful.
The village of Calasparra attributed miraculous actions, going to her when drought threatens crops.


Polychrome wood carving. Image of clothing. It is the image of the Virgin, which confronts you with open arms to welcome parishioners in his lap. As typical baroque image, false leads, such as hair, eyes and eyelashes. The head seems to be the only original element being linked in with it after the volume of the body, arms and finally winder.
As for its features, the eyes are large, small and slightly increases, meanwhile, ears nose is long in proportion to the narrowness of the mouth. Hands are not original.
It has a dowry consisting of various dresses, coats, and earrings. Porta a simple crown framed by a rather glorious nimbus. The earrings are long, beige dress, simulating two pieces. The top shaped bodice in a tan embroidery in blue and gold. Under this garment a shirt peeking out of the neck and sleeves sprig perceived. The clearer and skirt embroidered with matching color, open to bell-shaped feet. White-beige robe embroidered with floral motifs in blue and gold with matching dress.
It was attached to the original image of "The Pequeñica" having evidence of such a provision already in 1786. Due to the size of both, has been named to that now at hand as "The Great".
It has undergone many tweaks over time, hence the polychromy than the original. Nor hands, as already mentioned.
It was donated in 1617 by Juana Sanchez. In 1840, he was named the patron Virgin of Hope Calasparra. In the month of May is moved in procession to the parish church of St. Peter the Apostle.
This image is venerated along with "The Pequeñica" which is located at his feet, forming an unusual case in Marian iconography.
It is worth noting the fervor aroused by the Virgin of Hope and the visit to the shrine that bears his name. The shrine is located in a beautiful spot to 6 km from the village and that is where the chapel is the Virgin, patron saint of the village, so it was a natural cave. It is a beautiful place of prayer and recreation.
Fundamental part of the beauty of the buildings are set this terrace that overlooks the Segura. The facades are now built in the 60s with stone masonry of the place, so it seems part of the mountain itself. their lines in neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque can guess influences. The temple is located in an ancient cave pastors, accessed by a classical pediment and found a beautiful Gothic altarpiece (1802) which houses the holy images in its center.
Regarding the Virgin is said to cure many faithful found their ailments and who are grateful they have a habit of hanging on some walls of the sanctuary copies in wax-sized lower-cured member.


On the night of 7 to 8 September, Pilgrimage to the Shrine of N ª S ª de la Esperanza, which concludes the week of festivities in honor of the same. Usually held while Rice Fair during the 1st week of September. These parties are characterized by its running in the mornings and bullfights in the afternoon.
There is a deep veneration of the Virgin of La Esperanza in all villages surrounding the sanctuary. So much so, that several processions were held today, to satisfy all the faithful may even charter trains to go to Calasparra. Lady Day is September 8, the procession being one of the few that is celebrated at night.
The neighbors used to come in groups to the shrine on the day before the procession taking the shortcut Virgin, saw the picture and returned at dawn. Some devotees were kneeling stretches of road and ensure others were like corpses in the sanctuary, which was called tradition of "shrouded".
In the sanctuary was a haven for sleeping and outside the party you did. romera Food, Rabbit with tomato and tortillas, and lots of wine, dessert, watermelon. Today concerts and the Feast of The Radio are added. Only during the Civil War and the cold drop of 1989 has ceased to conduct the pilgrimage. The night party pyrotechnic lights, how could it be otherwise.
It was spectacular in the last rows of pilgrims who came at night in the mountains, from other locations, crossing the river on the site of The Loberas for provisional bridge was mounted each year and which was paid by person who utilized. Currently several processions are held in the sanctuary to facilitate access of the faithful, preferably go by road.



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