Mary Help of Christians

The feast of Mary Help of Christians is celebrated on May 24. It is a very ancient Christian devotion and devotion that began in the 3rd century, thanks to the influence of some fathers of the Church such as Saint John Chrysostom. Its diffusion was progressive, especially in the environment of situations such as that of the Council of Trent. However, the reformulation of contemporary devotion arose as a result of Pope Pius VII’s plea to the virgin during the captivity to which he was subjected by Napoleon. The pontiff was released on May 24, 1814 and this caused him to dedicate this day to Mary Help of Christians. The propagation of this Marian devotion would soon be in charge of the Salesians founded by Don Bosco who created churches, hospitals and schools in honor of the Virgin. The image of the virgin is always represented with the child in her arms, dressed in the colors pink and blue and carrying the royal attributes such as the crown and the royal scepter, as imagined by Don Bosco himself.

The origin of the devotion in Sant Joan must be placed in the figure of Mrs. Eloisa Loiznaz who established the system of home chapels in the town, a procedure by which a small mobile chapel with the image of the Virgin rotated through the houses of various people. It is known that this custom existed at least since the beginning of the 20th century. However, it was not until 1999 when a stronger devotion to Mary Help of Christians was established in Sant Joan d’Alacant. This year, a group of women from Sant Joan agreed to create an association in our town as a subsidiary of the neighboring town of El Campello that had existed for a long time. For the first time, the festival was celebrated around the name day of the Virgin with its epicenter in the Canyaret neighborhood, where several of these people who promoted the new festival lived. In just a short time, the party grew and consolidated, and in 2002 the association became independent from that of El Campello. Coinciding with this fact, the existing square in the neighborhood was named Maria Auxiliadora, and a small booth was installed there with a ceramic mural of the Virgin. Shortly after, a new image was made and placed in the Rosary chapel of the Parish Church.

Currently, the festival continues during the weekend after May 24 and consists of several events that begin with the extraordinary lighting of the neighborhood on Friday afternoon. There is no shortage of festivals and live music at night and during the day, parades with a band or ‘colla de dolçaina i tabalet’. The main events are religious ones, among which the pilgrimage on Sunday afternoon stands out, when the Virgin walks through the streets of the Canyaret neighborhood, decorated for the occasion with flags, blankets on the balconies, pots, flowers and murta or rosemary scattered everywhere. The event does not lack music and the accompaniment of faithful and devotees of the Virgin along with the support of all the Sant Joan festive entities. The event ends with the raffle for the home chapel of the Virgin who, as in the past, continues to visit the homes of the people who register to do so. The virgin is taken to the house and fireworks are fired to put the finishing touch to the celebration.