It’s fiesta time in Orihuela as the municipality prepares to honour its patron saint, the Virgin of Monserrate. The celebrations include a full schedule of entertainment featuring a variety of fun performances and musical concerts.
The Councillor for Festivities, Mariola Rocamora, has detailed the entire programming lined up for the traditional festivities which will run from Thursday 6th to Sunday 16th September. Whilst announcing the programme of events, the Councillor was accompanied by Paco Serna, vice president of the Archconfraternity of the Virgin of Monserrate, who was in charge of ensuring the liturgical and religious events are at the centre of the celebrations.
The event began on Thursday with a mass at 8pm, which has been celebrated by the residents of the Rabaloche for the last 10 years, this was followed by the transfer of the icon from its Sanctuary to the Cathedral of El Salvador and an evening serenade concert. The events continued over the weekend and this week, on Wednesday the 12th, the programme resumes with the representation of the children’s musical concert “La bruja Eloise”, which will take place in the Ramón Sijé square starting at 9:30pm, with an evening of fun theatre and music for the whole family.
On Thursday 13th September at 9:30pm, also in the Ramón Sijé square, a concert will be given by the Orihuela-based “Troupers Swing Band” combining their own songs with versions of swing and rockabilly.
On Saturday, 15th September, there will be the traditional ‘besamanto’ of the Virgin of Monserrate, taking place from 10am to 2pm and from 6pm, “where the Association of Agronomist Engineers of Orihuela will celebrate the Virgin from 12.00 noon.
The celebrations will finish with a spectacular fireworks display which marks the Virgin Monserrate’s transfer back to her sanctuary on Sunday 16th September at 8pm just after the final mass of the fiesta, which starts at 7pm which will be presided over by Jesús Murgui, Bishop of the Diocese of Orihuela-Alicante.
All residents from across the municipality and beyond are invited to celebrate this fiesta of honour, as Orihuela´s patron is once more given the tribute she deserves, before resting for another year.

History
The Virgin of Montserrat, popularly known as La Moreneta, is also the patron saint of Catalonia. Our Lady of Montserrat or the Virgin of Montserrat is a Marian title associated with a venerated statue of the Madonna and Child venerated at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery on the Montserrat Mountain in Catalonia, Spain.
The famed image once bore the inscription ”Negra Sum Sed Formosa” which translates from Latin as: I am Black, but Beautiful.
Pope Leo XIII granted the image a Canonical coronation on 11 September 1881. The image is one of the Black Madonnas of Europe, hence its familiar Catalan name, La Moreneta (“the little dark-skinned one” or “the little dark one”). Believed by some to have been carved in Jerusalem in the early days of the Church. However, it is more likely a Romanesque sculpture in wood from the late 12th century.
An 18th century polychromed statue of the same image is also displayed in Saint Peter’s basilica, previously stored in the Vatican Museums which was gifted by the President of Brazil, Joao Goulart on the Papal election of Pope Paul VI in 1963. The image has been on display for Papal masses since the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.