Fire damages three statues of the Virgin Mary in Spain at start of Holy Week


As Holy Week 2023 processions began in Spain, three wooden carvings of the Virgin Mary were damaged by fire in three separate incidents. / Credit: Brotherhood of Holy Tuesday (Chiclana), Brotherhood of the Virgen del Rocío (Vélez), and Virgen de Gracia Parish (Almadén)

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 3, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

As Holy Week processions began in Spain, three wooden carvings of the Virgin Mary were damaged by fire in three separate incidents. The cause of each of the fires appears to be accidental.

Statues of the Blessed Mother in Spain are typically clothed in an ornate mantle. Over the weekend, two caught fire from a candle and one from a probable short circuit.

The organizers of a Holy Week procession in the town of Chiclana in Cadiz province reported that “due to a piece of wick falling from a candle,” the mantle of Holy Mary of the Disconsolate “caught on fire” March 31, the Friday before Holy Week, known in Spain as the Friday of Sorrows, which commemorates the seven sorrows of the Mother of Jesus as the passion of her son approaches.

The mantle was totally destroyed and “the polychromy of her cheek and right hand” were damaged by the blaze, the organizers stated, but the fire did not affect the image of Jesus the Father of the Afflicted, “thanks to the prompt intervention” of those assisting with the veneration of the image.

Fortunately, no one was injured by the fire. Despite expressing “the deepest pain, grief, and sense of helplessness” over the incident but aware that their task is to “evangelize in the streets,” the Brotherhood of Holy Tuesday decided to carry out the procession planned for that day in Holy Week.

In Spain, the groups that organize the various street processions are known as confraternities or brotherhoods.

Two injured in Vélez-Málaga

Two members of a Holy Week confraternity were injured when they tried to put out the flames burning the mantle of the Virgin of El Rocío during the Palm Sunday procession in the town of Vélez-Málaga

A candle broke off and started the fire that occurred during the procession organized by the Confraternity of Our Father Jesus in his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and the Virgin of El Rocío.

Part of the mantle was damaged. The damage to the carving initially appeared to be “superficial,” the confraternity said.

The confraternity promised to provide more information about what happened in the coming days and thanked “the expressions of love, assistance, affection, and commitment of the people and confraternities” that have shown their support.

Short circuit suspected in third fire

A fire broke out the night of April 2-3 at Holy Mary of Grace Church in the town of Almadén de la Plata in Seville province.

According to the city government, “one of the altar pieces began to burn” and the firefighters initially suspected the fire was started “by an electrical short circuit.”

Unfortunately the sculpture of the Virgin was “quite damaged,” city hall said.

When the fire broke out, numerous residents went to the scene along with local volunteer firefighters and Civil Guard police. Their actions prevented “the entire church” from catching fire.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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