Annual battle for Virgin de la Pieda

The clean Cascamorras on his way to Baza Credit: Baza Council

Some Spanish towns are known for street art, Smurfs or witchcraft whilst others stand out for a single event which takes place annually.

In the 15th Century, a worker from the town of Guadix in Granada, Juan Pedernal, was demolishing a wall of an abandoned mosque in neighbouring Baza when his pickaxe almost destroyed a hidden 12th Century statue of the Virgin.

Legend says that the Virgin uttered the words “Baza – Guadix, have mercy on me”  as the pickaxe just touched her cheek and since that day she has been known as the Virgen de la Piedad (pity or compassion).

Where does the Virgin belong?

Where should the Virgin reside though? Both towns claimed her and it went to the courts but no formal decision was made, however it was agreed between the Burgers of the two towns that it would stay in pristine state in the Merced church in Baza and once a year on September 6, a representative from Guadix could try to claim it.

Whilst it sounds easy, this is not the case as the person chosen, known as Cascamorras, a semi-religious character, dressed in a multicoloured costume, similar to that of a harlequin, leaves Guadix en route for Baza.

At 6pm on September 6, a rocket is fired and a drum is beaten and the festival begins and to be successful the Cascamorras must recover the Virgin without a single stain appearing on his costume but locals who are out in force are armed with thick black paint and they chase him around the town ensuring that he and most of them are painted black.

The Cascamorras rarely remain unstained
Credit: Baza Council

Guadix can sometimes borrow the Virgin

From time to time, the people of Guadix are allowed to borrow the Virgin for a few days on the understanding that it is returned home on September 9.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page