"To El Rocío I want to return..."
The first constructions, the earthquake of Lisbon and the multiple interventions until arriving at the present Sanctuary.
It provides the first bibliographical reference on the existence of the hermitage, the Libro de la montería, completed between 1311 and 1350, which places it in the Rocinas, but outside the territorial domain of Almonte. It reads as follows:
“In the land of Niebla there is a land called Las Rocinas and it is flat, and it is all groves, and there are always pigs… and in particular, the best groves are those of a church called Sancta Maria de las Roçinas and of another church called Santa Olalla”.
And the first mention in documents of the chapel was in a measurement of limits between Niebla and Moguer with Almonte, made on December 30, 1335. The surveyors established a cairn in a cork oak that was near the old road that led to the church of “Santa María de las Roçinas y al Bodegón”. That same record indicates another boundary marker, which was then located next to an olive tree and the new road that went from Almonte to the Marismeña hermitage. It had, according to some documents, It was “ten rods long” and was oriented to the south. . It was of a simple Mudejar style, with a three-slope wooden roof and compass.
Throughout history, there have been several expansions and major renovations. However, it remained erected until the middle of the 18th century, when the seismic wave of the famous Lisbon earthquake of 1755 almost completely destroyed it.
The current temple has a liturgical orientation, that is, it is oriented in a west-east direction, bordering on its south side with the Madre de las Marismas del Guadalquivir, where the waters of the stream of La Rocina flow, from where the sacred image takes its primitive name.
In 1760, a new hermitagewas blessed, with larger dimensions and a different floor plan, oriented from east to west. It was also inspired by the Mudejar style, with some baroque elements on its façade, and a splendid altarpiece inside, attributed to Cayetano d’Acosta.
In 1914-1915 important maintenance works were carried out, reforming its façade in 1918-1919, shortly before the Canonical Coronation of the Virgen del Rocío, which remained until its demolition in July 1963, its aesthetics modified in 1942, to build the Sanctuary we know today.
The project of the new Sanctuary was the work of the Sevillian architects, Antonio Delgado Roig and Alberto Balbontín de Orta. The first stone was laid on January 26, 1964, by the first Bishop of the Diocese of Huelva, D. Pedro Cantero Cuadrado, the main promoter of the construction of this new temple for the Virgin. The new Sanctuary enlarges the original surface of the previous one, incorporating four properties acquired at different times and gaining space towards the main façade.
On April 12, 1969, it was blessed in a state of primary execution by the Bishop of Huelva, D. José María García Lahiguera.. After its blessing, the subsequent Governing Boards of the Hermandad Matriz have been working on the completion of these works. In October 1980 the first stroke of the gouge of the new altarpiece of the Santísima Virgen del Rocío was made and in May 1981 the belfry of the main door of the Santuario del Rocío was blessed, topped by a replica of the Sevillian Cruz de la Cerrajería by Sebastián Conde from Almonte. Subsequently, the Camarín, antecamarín and its annexed dependencies (1999), the Main Altarpiece (2006), the work of the carver Antonio Martín Fernández, the sculptor Manuel Carmona Martínez and the carpenter Matías Aceitón Vega have been blessed. And, in the meantime and later, other chapels and outbuildings: In 2002 the new sacristy, chapel for the passage of the Virgin, secretariat, press rooms, offices for the Chaplain and President of the Brotherhood, Board Room and two apartments were blessed, and also opened a new access to the Sanctuary by the Real opening to the devotees the so-called Puerta del Real. And in 2011, the Sacramental and Penitential Chapel.
During the extended stay of 2020-2022, important maintenance works have been carried out, particularly of all the exterior ceramic ornamentation, which has been renovated, culminating in the ornamentation of the “Puerta del Sol“.