Madrid´s San Isidro Week Of Celebrations

This Wednesday sees Madrid celebrate the feast day of its patron saint San Isidro on the 15th May.

San Isidro who was native born and lived his life in 11th century Madrid is credited with more miracles than any other saint in the Catholic Church – over 240 according to his many legends.

The City Council has organised a week-long series of family events, activities, concerts and street parades with the epicentre in La Pradera de San Isidro where Madrileños have been making their traditional pilgrimage for centuries and captured for immortality by Goya´s masterpeice of the same name painted in 1788.

One of the most important religious commemorations is the Grand Mass at the San Isidro Collegiate Church ( which was Madrid´s principal church until the opening of the Almudena Cathedral in 1993) after which the Archbishop of Madrid will lead the faithful from the church to the San Isidro Meadow to bless the water from the Ermita de San Isidro spring that still flows to this day.

Traditionally, believers queue up to drink the holy spring water whilst uttering the words: “San Isidro hermoso, patrón de Madrid, que el agua del risco hiciste salir“. (“Beautiful Saint Isidro, Patron Saint of Madrid, you made water spring from the craggy ground”).

Later, a parade of the giant statues ( literally known as the Gigantes and Cabezudos)  of San Isidro and his wife, Santa María de la Cabeza, are paraded through the old streets of Madrid´s historic quarter passing from Calle del Sacramento to the Plaza de la Villa and the Puerta del Sol.

As with every Spanish fiesta there is a traditional food and drink associated with San Isidro. Traditional fare enjoyed on San Isidro is the limonada (a drink made with wine, lemon, sugar and chopped fruit, usually apple), and rosquillas, doughnuts that come in different shapes and sizes: listas (“smart”, or glazed), tontas (“dumb”, or plain), de Santa Clara (covered in dry meringue) or francesas (with almonds).

Men, women and children will be seen wearing the traditional Madrileño late 19th century costumes of Chulapos and Chulapas complete with red carnations.

Couples of all ages will take to Madrid´s many plazas to dance Madrid´s 19th century folk dance known as El Chotis .

The traditional pastry is the rosquillas. A sweet donut type-biscuit that comes in different varieties. Las Listas (Clever ones) have a dousing of icing sugar on top, Las Tontas – (stupid ones) are made with egg. Las de Santa Clara, have a layer of meringue and Las Francesas are made with almonds.

And if you are curious to know more you can head to the Almudena Cathedral where his remains lie and where his original guilded coffin is on display in his chapel.

Then to the Pozo del Milagro – the miracle well – can be visited in the San Isidro Museum in Plaza de San Andrés, 2, where according to local legend, one of his many miracles was performed – this time his son had fallen into the well but was saved from drowning and being brought back to the surface by the sudden rising of the waters – thanks to you know who….








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