Our Lady Of The Forsaken Festival
On the second Sunday in May, all Valencians have a date with ‘La Geperudeta’, as she is affectionately known, and on this day she is honoured and celebrated. La Mare de Déu dels Desemparats has a long history that has been passed from generation.
The Virgin – Our Lady of the Forsaken - la Geperudeta (so called due to the downward inclination of her head), as well as becoming the Patron of the city of València was canonically crowned in 1923 in the presence of the King and Queen of Spain and the ecclesiastical authorities.
Nowadays, all this history is celebrated on the second Sunday in May (although the official date is the 8th of May). The Missa de Descoberta , the Missa d’Infants, the Traslado and Procesión are the events most looked forward to by the devout. It is the Traslado however, that is the act in which the Valencian people most spontaneously demonstrate their devotion to their patron.
Events in honour of our Lady of the Forsaken
Second Saturday of May
8 pm Ceremony for the Virgin at the Real Capilla (Royal Chapel).
11 pm Concert by the Municipal Orchestra in the Plaza de la Virgen.
00 am Fireworks display in the Turia Gardens (Serranos Towers). Followed by the Gran Dansà (the Great Dance) and Cantà d’Albaes (traditional songs) in honour of la Mare de Déu (with the collaboration of the Associació de Cant Valèncià) in the Plaza de la Virgen.Second Sunday of May
5 am Descobertar mass in honour of the Sacred Image at the Royal Chapel.
8 am Misa d’Infants, Mass in the Plaza de la Virgen.
10:30 am The ‘Traslado” (the ceremonial transfer of the Image of Our Lady from the Royal Chapel to the Cathedral). The Traslado route: From the Basílica, around Plaza de la Virgen, C/ Miguelete, Plaza de la Reina, going into the Cathedral through the Iron door.
2 pm Mascletà at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
6:30 pm The Traditional Procession. The Procession route: Plaza de la Virgen, Caballeros, Tossal, Bolsería, Mercado, Mª Cristina, San Vicente, Pza. de la Reina, Mar , Avellanas, Palau, Almoina.
History, Legends and Tradition
At the beginning of the 21st century, València has given new life to one of the city’s oldest traditions: The day of Our Lady of the Forsaken. In the midst of a modern, bustling, cosmopolitan city, looking to the challenges of the future, there is still time for tradition; exhibiting the devotion and charisma of a people that are proud of their roots.
The night before the second Sunday in May, the city centre area known as the Barrio del Carmen is the scene for the events in honour of the Patron, as well as the typical Saturday night bar and restaurant activities: a clear example of how the València of the present and the future manages to go forward, united with its origins and the past.
The origins of the devotion to the Patron of València go back to a sermon by Friar Juan Gilabert Jofré (a friend of Saint Vicente Ferrer), delivered in the cathedral on the 24th of February 1409.
While walking to the church he noticed that some boys were laughing at a parishioner suffering from mental illness. In his sermon, the friar called on all the faithful to help the abandoned, the poor and the sick.
Among the congregation was Lorenzo Salmon, a tradesman who began a project to build the Hospital dels ignocens. Folls e Orats - an institution that is considered to be the first psychiatric hospital in the world.
Even more interesting is the legend of the authors of the image that is venerated today. It is said that in 1414, three young men, dressed as pilgrims came to the brotherhood that looked after the hospital. The brother that lived there had a wife that was blind. The young men said that if they were given food and lodge for four days they would build an image of the Virgin.
Four days went by and nothing had been heard from the room where the young men were working so the door was forced open - there was no sign of the young men but the Virgin had been built and the brother’s wife recovered her sight: they knew then that the young men were angels sent from heaven. The statue was later copied by the Ribaltas, Orrente, Zariñena and Espinosa and all of them said they recognised ‘something supernatural’ about the image.
Finally, we can add that Our Lady of the Forsaken is the only such figure that has her own transport; a vehicle made exclusively for the Virgin. The number plate of the ‘mare mòbil’, V-0075-GP, signifies; València, the 75th anniversary of her coronation and GP for Geperudeta, as Our Lady is so often called.