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Traditions and legends

Traditions and legends

Traditions and legends

As a celebration in its entirety, Easter is shrouded in legends that run parallel to documented history. These folklore traditions bestow an aura of mystery on the festivity and the devotion to certain images, forming part and parcel of the festivity itself. Here are some of the many legends that exist.


Tradiciones y leyendas Sangre

For a city with a strong seafaring tradition such as Málaga, there was bound to be a legend linked to fishermen. The story goes that a group of them were caught in a storm while fishing and were swept out to sea. Despite their efforts to control the boat and reach dry land, their attempts were in vain. In despair, and while they were commending their souls to God, a ray of light came out of the sky, opening a clearing in the waves where a carving of Jesus on the Cross appeared. The sailors steered the boat towards the image, rescuing it from the sea and discovering that blood was flowing from its side. The storm subsided, allowing them to arrive safely on dry land with the image, which was taken to the old convent of La Merced, where it has been venerated ever since as the Cristo de la Sangre (Blood Christ).


A serious plague epidemic devastated the city during the reign of Charles III, and a vast number of people perished. The weakness of the survivors made it difficult to hold rogatory processions imploring the end of the epidemic.

One of the places where the disease had not struck with such virulence was the prison. The inmates, aware of what was happening outside the walls where they were deprived of their freedom, asked the warden to allow them to go out in procession to take the venerated image of Our Father Jesus called "El Rico" out in the streets. When the authorities refused, due to the well-founded fear that the inmates might take advantage of the circumstance to escape, the prisoners decided to mutiny and took the image out in procession. After the procession, they all returned to the prison except one, who did so the following day, carrying a head of Saint John the Baptist beheaded, which he placed next to the bed of a fellow prisoner, who was also ill, and who, like the rest of the population of Málaga, was cured a few days after the event.

Moved by the generous action of the prisoners, the King issued a decree by which, every year, during the procession of El Rico, a prisoner would be granted freedom. This tradition has been maintained to this day. Therefore, every year on Holy Wednesday, a solemn ceremony is held in front of the image of the Nazarene. The prisoner receives the blessing of the image while kneeling, after which they are set free and, as is the tradition, will accompany the image in its procession through the streets of Málaga.


Tradiciones y Leyendas Zamarrilla

In the age when bandits roamed the streets, one of the most infamous was nicknamed "El Zamarilla". Together with his gang, he perpetrated innumerable acts of misdemeanour, defying the authorities and spreading terror wherever he went. His reputation and dangerous nature led the law enforcement officers to form a special unit to capture him by all means. After several confrontations, they managed to corner him, but "El Zamarilla", who was agile and cunning, managed to escape. He was relentlessly pursued and reached a hermitage in search of refuge. Under the mantle of a Dolorosa that was venerated there, he found his hiding place. Despite an exhaustive search, his pursuers were unable to find him, as he was sheltered in that peculiar hiding place.

They continued their hunt desperately and angrily in other areas. Some time later, sensing that he was safe, the bandit left his refuge and, giving thanks to the proverbial saviour, he plucked a white rose that was growing on the path to the chapel and pinned it to the chest of the image, using his own dagger as a pin. The rose instantly turned red.
The bandit was terrified and knelt at the feet of the Virgin and begged her forgiveness for his ungodly life. From then on, "El Zamarrilla" became a recluse, visiting his beloved Virgin on occasion. However, he was mortally wounded by other bandits in a final assault. Before dying, he offered the Virgin a red rose, which miraculously turned white in his hands. The Virgin had forgiven him. Today, the Virgen de la Amargura still resides in the hermitage of Zamarrilla, with the red rose and the dagger in her chest, and only on Good Friday does she wear a white rose, forgiving humanity for the death of her Son.


Tradiciones y leyendas Monte Calvario (1)

Next to the Sanctuary of La Victoria, and starting from Calle Amargura, there is a small hill that leads to a hermitage, which the people of Málaga call Monte Calvario (Mount Calvary). Every Friday in Lent, a Via Crucis is organised which, starting from the church of San Lázaro, retraces the ascent to Golgotha in fourteen stages, commemorating it. The starting point is San Lázaro because the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus of Nazareth of the Steps on Monte Calvario has long organised the Official Stations of the Cross of the City of Málaga, the first station of which starts precisely from San Lázaro. Each participant in the Via Crucis carries fourteen stones, symbolising the sins committed. The stones are deposited, as they are read out, at the corresponding stations on their respective crosses, symbolising the unloading of sins through repentance. The Via Dolorosa ends at the Ermita del Calvario, the headquarters of the Good Friday Brotherhood whose patron saint bears the same name as this mount.