El Rocío is a small village in the south of Spain where every year, specifically on the weekend of Pentecost Sunday, one of the most popular, colorful, happy and passionate pilgrimages in the world is celebrated. Thousands of pilgrims travel by foot, on horses and in carts, hundreds of kilometers through the Doñana National Park to meet their patron, the Virgen del Rocío, object of devotion and meaning of their lives. The legend says that a hunter found in the field, in the early fifteenth century, a woodcarving representing the Virgin and such was the impact that generated its beauty in the inhabitants of the region that erected an hermitage was built in her honor in the same place where Virgin was found to venerate her since then. From this hermitage arose the village of El Rocío, which barely has 2,000 inhabitants but which increases to one million people during the festival days. The life of the pilgrim is a countdown to the new Pentecost, until the new encounter with its Virgin.
This pilgrimage is an extraordinary example of the oldest human traditions in the Mediterranean, of its relationship with its natural environment.
Photographs © Francisco Márquez