"When the air was purer and the marsh was greener..."
The place we know today as El Rocío, gives its name not only to the Virgin, but also to a village and a specific territory that was not always called that way. Neither its landscape configuration, nor its demarcation and administrative dependencies were always the same.
The area where today stands the Shrine of Our Lady of El Rocío, seems to have been populated in ancient times. was populated in ancient times The area where the Sanctuary of Our Lady of El Rocío stands today, seems to have been inhabited in ancient times: Paleolithic, Tartessos, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs. However, this place takes a new impetus when the king Alfonso X “The Wise (1252-1284) conquers these lands from the Arabs whose jurisdiction belonged to the Taifa kingdom of Niebla. To him is attributed the erection of that first Wayside Shrine after the conquest of these lands, in 1262 He ordered to place there the image of the Virgin. At that time, it was called “Coto de las Rocinas”, which initially gave its name to the devotion.
After the conquest of Niebla and, with it, all its jurisdiction, to which Almonte belonged with its present vast municipal area, in 1335, authorities from the cities of Seville and Niebla met to discuss matters concerning the division of the terms between the two jurisdictions in a place called Bodegón de Freyle or Fraile, which “It is in good use… out of a church called Sancta María de las Rocinas”. . This bodegón, a kind of inn, was located in front of the Ermita in the place we know today as La Canaliega. And shortly after, around 1340, the “Libro de la Montería” was written , a treatise on hunting written by the king. Alfonso XI in which the hermitage of Ntra. Sra. de las Rocinas, when it says textually: “…e señaladamente son los mejores sotos de correr cabo de una iglesia que dicen Santa María de las Rocinas et cabo de otra iglesia que dicen Santa Olalla”.
Following the chronology, another document dated 1349, tells of the humble bequest of a neighbor of Niebla named Urraca Fernández leaving two maravedíes to the “obra de Santa María de las Rocinas”. And on February 25, 1400, authorities from Seville and Niebla met in the Hermitage of Santa Maria de las Rocinas to sign an act of fixing a boundary marker between the towns of Almonte, Villalba, Manzanilla and Hinojos.
According to the findings, the Hermitage was built by Alfonso X "The Wise" between 1285 and 1300.
In 1582, the Council of Almonte acquires the land known as Madre de las Marismas, next to the hermitageThis area is not only in the municipality of Almonte, but also the property of its municipality, which is still the property of Almonte today.
From all these data we deduce that the Hermitage was erected by Alfonso X “The Wise” between 1285 – 1300, as was the custom of the Wise King, in the newly conquered places, remaining the fourteenth century raised and dedicated to Ntra. Sra. de las Rocinas, as verified in the exposed documents.
This site experienced a great significance, following the discovery and conquest of America in 1492, becoming a crossroads, an obligatory step to reach the Ports, or to join the city of Moguer with the city of Seville, and an important place in the history of the region. a place frequented by shepherds and livestock farmers from Almonte.This town is fifteen kilometers away and is located within its boundaries.
In the 18th century, the devotion to the Virgin was institutionalized, and the brotherhoods began to locate their houses around the old chapel, where they are located during the pilgrimage.
In the 19th century the place became a refuge for neighbors of Almonte fleeing from various epidemics. The institutionalization of the Voto del Rocío Chico obliges the people of Almonte to attend at least twice a year. The village becomes a place of enjoyment outside the times of more agricultural activity, where neighbors from Almonte and other municipalities of Condado de Huelva move to.
Around the Canonical Coronation and from this date, promoted by the city council of Almonte, the stage of devotion will get bigger and biggerThe rociera family is growing, not only throughout the Andalusian territory, but also in many other parts of the national geography.
The village, despite its exponential growth since the 1970s, continues to be the village of the Virginwhere the serene and pilgrim beauty of an Image that transmits something reigns and that was placed there, with such success, that the seed, once again, fell on fertilized soil whose fruits are evident today. Everything here continues to revolve around its pilgrim beauty.