Shortly after moving to the mainland, I was very kindly taken to Monastery of the Virgin of Saliente by friends. It is known as “Monasterio de la Virgen de Saliente” in Spanish and is located not far from where we live.
I have to say that the views from up here will take your breath away. The building itself is very large, and its terracotta form gazes out across a valley that on a clear day will reach over Albox, as far as Mojacar, and (so I was told by my kind guides) the sea beyond.
The story begins in the early eighteenth century. This was a time when things were really hard. The French Revolution had ended, and this had a real impact on people in Spain too… and on their Catholic Faith.
Around this time… young Lazarus (a farmer’s son) was guarding his mules and donkeys. The legend has it that Lazarus was pure of heart, a hard worker, and well known for being an all round good lad. He was certainly very trusted and popular with the villagers. Apparently, whilst on the mountain (and during a storm), he had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and heard “blessed songs” whilst seeing her shining eyes.
The next morning, Lazarus was found by villagers at the foot of the mountain… enthusing about his vision, and about the songs he had heard. He wasn’t making any sense at all, but because he was so pure of heart, he was believed. He spoke about a particular image, and said that he needed to get an icon that matched this vision… in order to erect a chapel or monument in her honour.
Two priests were thus despatched, and during their travels they stayed at an inn. They were served at the inn by a quietly spoken friendly priest (of unknown name or origin) who asked about their journey, and their reasons for the trek. They told him of Lazarus’ vision… and described to the priest the image that Lazarus was trying to obtain. The priest ushered them to a building nearby where he was able to give them a holy image… matching Lazarus’ description. The two priests were so pleaseed about the exact match, they became quite excitable… trying to offer their gracious host money or reward. He refused all of this.
The two priests asked if the quiet priest would escort them back to Lazarus… and he left them for the evening. The following morning, they waited for hours for him to come back, but he did not… so they returned the the house where he had given them the image. Oddly, nobody at the inn, or the place where the image had been provided… had ever heard of this priest or recognised the description. The two commissioned priests took this as a sign, and hurried back to Albox with the image of the Virgin Mary in tow.
Lazarus set eyes upon the image, and became wildy excited – claiming that this was indeed the vision he had experienced himself. He took this as a sign… and declared (along with another believer) that they should build a chapel in hour of the Virgin Mary… exactly where he had seen her appear above the mountain. In March 1712, permission was granted for this by the current Bishop.
The building took 4 years to complete, and when it was finished… the image was installed.
News of the miracle spread so fast, and people were travelling from far and wide to come and gaze upon the image. With this in mind, permission was requested to extend the premises further. This was granted towards the end of 1713, and confirmed in early 1714.
There is a story told often… that who Lazarus actually saw was a sailor who had managted to escape a shipwreck in a storm… and that it was he and his guilt that enabled the funds to be available for the chapel and its expansion.
Who knows? What is true however… is that there is a pilgrimage every year on the 8th of September, when many many people make the arduous journey from Albox up to the monastery. Many of these people do it in bare feet… as a penance for their sins… and to worship the image inside the monastery.
Mornings: 9am until 1:30pm
Afternoons: 4pm onwards
Mass: Every Sunday at 1:30pm
(Dates / Times correct as of October 2012)
The monastery is located on the road between Albox and Chirivel. It’s so big, you really can’t miss it. I must give very heartfelt thanks to Stacey and Dave, who kindly took me for a look after our walk around Velez Rubio