The Madonna of Hope; La Esperanza
La Macarena is a mysterious, beautiful, powerful Madonna. Her true title is Our Lady of Hope or La Esperanza, but she takes her nickname from her home, the Macarena district of Seville, Spain. This Lady of Hope manifests somewhat differently than others.
Macarena is now intensely identified with a miraculous statue, credited to sculptor Luisa Roldán (1652–1706) who is famed for the lifelike quality of her work. Some devotees insist that angels made the statue or at least assisted La Roldána. The image of Macarena is ubiquitous in Seville, appearing in bars, restaurants, and taxis.
La Macarena’s devotees come from all walks of life. She is venerated by various religious societies (confraternities), but she also has two special constituencies:
• La Macarena is beloved by Gitanos, Seville’s Gypsies.
• She is adored by bullfighters, not just locally but throughout Spain and Mexico.
Bullfighters traditionally invoke La Macarena’s blessings before entering the ring. Her veil is sometimes used to miraculously heal injured matadors. Her most famous devotee, Seville’s own Joselito, “Little José”, José Gomez Ortega (8 May 1895–16 May 1920), was born in the Macarena neighborhood. At age seventeen he became the youngest to earn the title matador. Joselito spent a fortune buying emeralds for Macarena. When he died, fatally gored in the ring, she wore black for a month, the only time she has ever dressed in black.
Passionate veneration of La Macarena predates the image Roldán was commissioned to create. The image is a reflection of devotion, not the other way around. Confraternities devoted to her were approved in 1595. Because of the intense passion she evokes and because there has always been an unconventional element to her veneration, there has long been speculation regarding Macarena’s origins:
• Some theorize that her roots lie in the mysterious Saint Sara.
• Before Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, Seville was the center of Kabbalistic veneration of a now mysterious spirit called the Fallen Widow, possibly Mary Magdalen and possibly an early manifestation of Macarena.
La Macarena’s rival is La Triana, another beautiful, miracle-working Esperanza statue, this one housed in Seville’s Triana neighborhood. La Triana, like Macarena, has a large Roma (Gypsy) fan base, but rather than matadors, she is beloved by sailors and flamenco dancers. La Triana is (unofficially) considered the matron of the gay community. Her statue is housed in the Chapel of the Mariners.
The statue of Macarena is damaged: she has a bruise on her right cheek, not as part of the original statue but inflicted by a drunk in the crowd during a Holy Week processional. He threw a glass bottle at her image, striking her. A bruise emerged. Artists were hired to repair the statue, but each time restoration was complete, the bruise mysteriously reappeared. (When the drunk sobered up and saw the damage, he repented.
For the rest of his life, every Holy Week he walked before her statue, wearing chains on his feet and carrying a large cross. After his death, his descendents took up his cross, continuing his penance.)
La Macarena is a gorgeous life-like, life-size statue of a beautiful, sorrowful woman, always exquisitely dressed. (Her clothes are on display in a museum devoted to her.) She looks like a Fairy-tale queen. Her face glistens with crystal tears; she wears a massive gold crown of stars.
The Basilica de la Macarena in Seville plus countless home altars.
La Macarena is a star of Seville’s Holy Week (the week prior to Easter.) Thousands throng the streets to greet her passionately when she emerges from her basilica for her annual Holy Week parade through the district.
Black Madonna; Black Madonna of Czestochowa; Maries de la Mer, Saintes; Mary Magdalen; Sara la Kali
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.