Blessings of rain mar Holy Week in drought-stricken Spain

QUESADA, Spain (AP) – Another important rain did not spoil Holy Week for Alfonso del Río Martínez and his fellow Christians in the southern Spanish village of Quesada.

So when there was a break in the rainy season, they completed their annual act of spiritual devotion by guiding a float carrying Christ and the Virgen through the streets of their town of about 5,000 people.

The rain that fell during Holy Week was a blessing for large parts of Spain that were suffering a permanent drought, even after the Easter celebration that is held in the country has been postponed. Many cities, towns and villages had to cancel Holy Week pilgrimages due to the strong winds that hit the Iberian Peninsula.

When the rain started falling towards the end of Saturday’s trip to Quesada, a plastic tarp was quickly made and pulled over the cross that was being carried on the shoulders of the local men and women.

Del Río called the shower that fell on the group a “miracle” for the area, which olive groves The local economy has been severely affected by the lack of water.

“We have gone through two years of drought that have left the two dams we have here completely dry, and we were asking for water with difficulty,” said Del Río, the president of the Quesada parish union that is participating in the protest.

“At the same time, we were expecting rain throughout the year and it only rained for these seven days. (But) we have all accepted without complaining because the rain is welcome.”

The scene of many people carrying large wooden floats on their backs to display elaborately decorated statues of Christ and/or the Virgen has been reenacted every Holy Week since ancient times in Spain. These festivals attract the faithful as well as many people who just want to witness the event.

Although these trips are held for a few days, the preparation lasts a whole year. So completely missing the event can be a real disappointment for those involved.

Seville, which draws tens of thousands of people every Holy Week for its fairs, had to cancel its fairs last week due to incessant rain for the first time in more than a decade.

In Logroño, northern Spain, porters were distraught and some were in tears after being told their journey had been cancelled.

Although a downfall for many, the rain was no doubt a big relief for many others – and farmers in particular, who have seen severe restrictions placed on irrigation.

The faithful have tried to fight the drought by pleading for God’s intervention, even in a traditional Roman Catholic world that is rapidly growing secular. In Catalonia, the northeastern region around Barcelona, ​​some local parishes are reviving the fading practice of conservatism. A special mass is a journey I hope it rains.

Spain’s total water storage capacity was 57% before the Holy Week rains, but there is a big difference between the rainy coast of the north Atlantic and the north-east of the Mediterranean and the south. Although Spain’s North Atlantic reservoirs were 90% or close to 90%, Catalonia was as low as 15% and parts of the south were over 20%.

A storm that brought rain to Spain during Holy Week was behind strong winds and waves that battered the coast on Friday, while four people died after falling into the sea.


Associated Press reporter Joseph Wilson in Barcelona contributed to this story.

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