Wednesday, February 1

Health celebrates 300 years in Plasencia


A good part of those who reside in Plasencia today have never witnessed a procession of the Virgen de la Salud nor do they know for that reason the pull of what was one of the most popular festivals in the city. The devotion to this image was so widespread that the celebration of the Bouquet of Health was one of the most important events of the year. Around it there were bulls and a fruit and candy market representative of autumn.

Today there is little left of that party. The Health Branch began on September 24 and ends this Monday, but it is exclusively limited to religious celebrations. However, trying to recover what it once was is now the objective of a work commission that has been created to mark the next year of the third centenary of the hermitage of Health, completed in 1723.

Representatives of the Church, the City Council and the Devotion of Health make up the group recently formed, but which has already started working on the preparation of a program with which it is intended that the 300-year history of the Hermitage of Health not only do not pass without pain or glory, but serve to recover part of the history of Plasencia.

For this reason, it is being studied that the market return to the surroundings of the Trujillo bridge during the celebration of the next Bouquet with fifteen stalls selling artisan products, fruits and sweets that signify the arrival of autumn. They also want to organize an exhibition at the Las Claras cultural center with documents and liturgical elements that will bring the history of the hermitage and its Virgin closer to the population, and that it will go out again in procession in order to continue writing the history of an image that on rare occasions he has left his hermitage. In fact, the last time on record was in 1957.

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Recovered sgraffito in which the completion date appears. /

ANDY SOLE

In short, it is a matter of valuing this Placentine heritage and, with it, part of the history of the city, unknown to a large part of the population.

Only the fact that what was an entrance door in the walled enclosure, such as those of Berrozana or Coria, was transformed to build a hermitage in it, evidences the devotion to the Virgin of Health. Rather then to the Virgen de los Remedios.

the miracle of the lamp

According to José A. Pajuelo and Pedro Luna, scholars of history, heritage and local customs, that is the name that appears in the sanctuary’s minute book, being from 1654 when it was renamed Virgen de la Salud, on the occasion of the miracle of the lamp.

One Sunday, July 13, the lamp that illuminated the Virgin flowed and spilled oil from the night of that day until the following Tuesday. And this motivated the name change, “due to the miraculous cures performed on some patients, who used said oil, according to the statements of several witnesses.”

But this not only motivated the change of name to Virgen de la Salud, but also the construction of a hermitage to replace the small chapel that existed. It was a popular decision and it was the local residents who carried out the work.

The work began on April 5, 1721, spending “more than 46,000 reais, which would reach 100,000 if donated materials were counted,” Pajuelo and Luna detail in their study, and lasted for 20 months, until the end of 1723. It is the year that appears on one of the sgraffito that decorates the outside of the hermitage and the reason why the third centenary will be celebrated next year. Although it was not until 1725 when the Virgen de la Salud returned to her hermitage. She had been stored in the Cathedral, “to the right of the main altar, in the same place where the Virgin of the Port is usually placed when she goes down to the city.”

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Access stairs to the hermitage that represent an architectural barrier. /

ANDY SOLE

On May 22 of that year «the whole town of Plasencia accompanies the Virgin in procession from the seo to her new and beautiful house, made with the alms and work of many of the devotees, celebrating it with four comedies, bulls and fires in its traditional festivals, in addition to the liturgical solemnities. A celebration in style, as described by Pajuelo and Luna, which records the devotion to the Virgin of Health.

The hermitage has undergone some improvements since then. The last important one was carried out by the City Council in 2002 and allowed the recovery of the sgraffito. Now he will refocus the work of the professional schools to recover the damaged exterior facade and the part of the canyon that requires repair, as well as the treatment of the gilding and the lighting as a whole. But, in addition, the City Council is studying how to make the hermitage accessible, which can only be reached through steep stairs. Study the possibility of installing an elevator in the house attached to the hermitage, which is owned by the Devotion of Health.


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