For the first time in two years Madrid is preparing for a return to a full on celebration of its patron saint, San Isidro, whose feast day on the 15th May is marked across the capital with a packed programme of activities.
This year the programme of events includes concerts, shows and an endless range of family activities for all ages.
Tradition meets modernity in the week-long festivities that see Madrileños dress up and dance chotis in the streets and enjoy the time-honoured rituals of the Romeria and family picnics in the Pradera de San Isidro. A scene encapsulated in Goya´s famous painting that hangs in the Prado Museum.
San Isidro, who was born and lived in 11th century Madrid has over four hundred miracles credited to him was believed to have a special ability for finding water, and one of the festivities’ biggest traditions sees chulapos and chulapas drinking saint’s water from the spring next to the Ermita de San Isidro.
Another tradition that lives to this day is attending the Romería outdoor celebration in Pradera de San Isidro (San Isidro’s meadow).
Traditional fare enjoyed on San Isidro is the limonada (a drink made with wine, lemon, sugar and chopped fruit, usually apple), and rosquillas, small sugared dough cakes in different shapes and sizes: listas (“smart”, or glazed), Tontas de Santa Clara (covered in dry meringue) or Francesas (with almonds).
The city council is providing a host of free activities for all the family in the Plaza Mayor, Las Vistillas including the return of the Gigantes y Cabezudos parade as well those organised by the church such as celebrating mass at the Colegiata de San Isidro, the Eucharist in the Chapel of the Cuadra de San Isidro, and the Romería church service in the Pradera de San Isidro Park.
Some of Isidro´s miracles include an angel ploughing his field, bringing back to life his masters deceased daughter.
It is said after a storm in April 1212 brought torrential rains that caused the cadavers from cemeteries in Madrid to be brought to the ground – his was identified as being in an apparent state of incorruptibility.
He is also sad to have played his role in defeating the Moors – indeed he was born in 1070 some 15 years before Alfonso X of Castille took Madrid from them.
A later Alfonso of Castille – the VIII is said to have attributed his decisive victory over the Moors at the battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212 to his divine intervention