Patron Saint's Day: Virgen de la Victoria
Every September 8, the city celebrates the feast of its patron saint, Santa María de la Victoria. The Virgen de la Victoria has been the principal patron saint of Málaga and its diocese since December 8, 1867, when she was proclaimed via a brief published by Pope Pius IX. It's a local holiday in the municipality.
The story of her devotion
The devotion to the Virgen de la Victoria in Málaga was already significant long before she was proclaimed the patron saint in 1867. King Ferdinand the Catholic prayed to her in his private chapel during the siege prior to entering the city in 1487. Present at his camp were monks of the Order of the Minims, recently founded by Saint Francis of Paula in Italy around 1474, who were looking for a place to settle.
Once the city was taken by the Catholic Monarchs, the Virgen de la Victoria was enshrined in a church built on the site of the camp. The monks would also settle there, thus laying the groundwork for what is now the La Victoria neighbourhood. This church was the first convent that the Order of Minims founded in Spain (1493). In addition, the Virgen de la Victoria became the patron saint of the order throughout Spain, hence their moniker, victorious friars, and dedicated to this appearance of the Virgin the majority of the monasteries that they founded in the country.
Santa María de la Victoria was canonically crowned on February 8, 1943 in General Torrijos Square. Her current church, built at the turn of the 18th century, is one of the main examples of late Andalusian Baroque. It has an beautiful tower-niche, with a dome of rich plasterwork and an extraordinary chiaroscuro pantheon that portrays the Counts of Buenavista, one of the main benefactors of the Patroness of Málaga.
The church belonged to the Minim convent until its disentailment in 1836. At that time, with the departure of the Minim Order, with the exception of the church, it all became a military hospital, until 1988, when it continued to operate as a private health centre. The sanctuary was transferred to the Diocese of Málaga, and was elevated to the rank of minor basilica in 2007.
On September 8th, a local holiday, Málaga celebrates the feast of its patron saint, the Virgen de la Victoria, by holding a solemn seasonal mass and a procession.
Previously, on the morning of the last Sunday in August, the Virgen de la Victoria is moved from her basilica to the Cathedral, where her novena is held.
On the morning of September 8, the solemn mass, celebrated by the bishop of the diocese and attended by representatives from every city institution and agency, takes place. At the ecclesiastical level, the day of the Virgen de la Victoria in Málaga is regarded as a Solemnity by the Church, and has its own exclusive mass for the occasion. The Virgin presides over the worshippers from the high altar of the Cathedral. After Mass, a floral offering takes place outside the main church, where groups of people sing and dance the malagueña.
In the afternoon, the sculpture is taken back to the La Victoria neighbourhood atop her throne, touring the main streets of the historic centre accompanied by all the brotherhoods and confraternities, civil and religious officials and numerous devotees. After passing through the heart of the city, the return to the neighbourhood takes on a more popular feel, as locals cluster around the figure until around midnight, when it is returned to the Sanctuary.