The Costume of the Brotherhoods, or more popularly known as the Costume of the Apostles, is a work designed by Joaquín Castilla in 1951, being a commission made by the own Brotherhood Matriz de Ntra. Sra. del Rocío de Almonte, under the presidency of Mr. Manuel Escolar Peláez, and that enjoys the declaration of Cultural Interest within the General Catalog of the Andalusian Historical Heritage.
From the beginning of the idea of its creation, the idea was to involve the existing Hermandades del Rocío. Joaquín Castilla devised an exceptionally rich terno, consisting of saya, mantle, headdress, breastplate or bodice, collar, sleeves and over-sleeves, and costume of the Child.
With the exception of the headdress, which was made of mesh and embroidered with variegated vegetal motifs, the rest of the ensemble was embroidered with fine gold and silk thread of different colors on silver tisu.
The skirt shows a very rich embroidery, as well as all the pieces that make up the dress, mainly based on plant motifs, stems, scrolls and leaves. But of the whole ensemble, the mantle stands out above all, not only for its artistic richness, which it has as we noted above, but above all for its profound biblical content.
The mantle, conceived as a pluvial cloak, although without the hood, shows on each side three chapels, six in total, with biblical figures all related to the Virgin Mary and the History of Salvation. These characters have their hands and faces carved in ivory, works of the sculptor Miguel González Pérez, while the rest of the body is embroidered in silk thread of different colors, using the milanese technique. The embroidery work was directed by María de los Ángeles Navarro, master of embroidery at the convent of Santa Isabel de Sevilla, of the Philippine nuns.
The characters represented are, on the left side, St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin; St. Joachim, her father; and the patriarch Abraham, father of believers; and on the right side, King David, from whose lineage the Virgin Mary was born; St. John the Evangelist, to whom the Lord gave his Mother, as a symbol also of the spiritual motherhood of the Virgin over all Christians; and St. Luke, Marian evangelist par excellence. These characters, which we have already seen who each one is, is what motivated in the popular lore that this set was called the Apostles’ costume, because the people, plain and simple, not only did not care to know who each one was, but they did not even count them. The truth is that, seeing that there were so many ebony faces, they would think that they would be the followers of Jesus, and they began to call it as. “of the Apostles”. .
The lower part of it is closed by a wide border in which, embroidered with colored silk threads, appear the coats of arms of all the towns and cities that had erected Filial Brotherhoods up to the moment, a total of twenty-eight, and in the center that of the Matriz Brotherhood, which is escorted by angels, with faces, hands and feet carved in ivory. Interspersed between the shields are the embroidered symbols of fifteen litanies.
For its execution, fine gold thread, silk thread and giraspe were used, all with the techniques of piped flakes, milanés and half-sling, to which must be added the applications of velvet, rhinestones, natural pearls, ivory and silver.
“Come Divine Spirit and send your light from heaven.”
Right in the center of the mantle is a large silver dove, symbol of the Paraclete, which was carved by the Seville goldsmith workshop of Seco Velasco. The dove of the Holy Spirit flutters over a sun that spreads its rays embroidered with a leaf, and is bordered by a phylactery with the first Latin verses of the Pentecost sequence: “VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS ET EMITTE COELITUS LUCIS TUAE RADIUM”.which translates: “Come Divine Spirit and send your light from heaven.”.
In the resulting spaces on each side, between the break of glory with the Holy Spirit and the lateral borders with their little chapels, were embroidered castles, lions rampant and fleurs-de-lis, all of them symbols related to the monarchy, but which together speak to us of Mary’s royalty, since the Virgin Mother of God was crowned Queen of all creation.
At the top of each of the latter spaces we can see a coat of arms on each of them. These are the coats of arms belonging to the last places where the brotherhoods affiliated to the Almonteña matrix had been created. Since they did not fit in the original project’s border, a place was found for them where there was one.
Finally, in the upper part, coinciding with the lower limit of the headdress, there is a border with seven cherub heads. The wings are embroidered and the faces are carved in ivory by Miguel González Pérez. There are seven, to permanently reflect the invocation of the Virgin for whom this piece was made, the Virgin of El Rocío, who celebrates her feast at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends and distributes his seven gifts: understanding, wisdom, counsel, fortitude, science, piety and fear of God.
The Virgin premiered it in 1956, being president of the Hermandad Matriz Don José María Castrillo Moreno, and has just been intervened in the Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage.
Manolo Rocinas, will be your virtual guide to show you the pieces of the museum. Enjoy the video!
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