The festivity of Maria Auxiliadora is celebrated on 24 May. It is a very old devotion and Christian dedication that started in the third century, thanks to the influence of some Fathers of the Church as St. John Chrysostom. Its diffusion was progressive, especially in the environment of situations like the one of the Council of Trento. However, the reformulation of contemporary devotion arose from the plea of Pope Pius VII to the Virgin during the captivity to which he was subjected to by Napoleon. The pontiff was released on 24 May 1814 and this is the reason why he dedicated this day to Maria Auxiliadora. The propagation of this Marian dedication would soon be the responsibility of the Salesians founded by Don Bosco who created churches, hospitals and schools in honour of the Virgin. The image of the Virgin is always represented with the child in her arms, dressed in pink and blue colours and bearing the royal attributes like the crown and the sceptre, as Don Bosco imagined her.

The origin of the devotion in Sant Joan has to be placed in the figure of Ms. Eloisa Loiznaz who established the system of home chapels in the town, a procedure whereby a small moving chapel with the image of the Virgin was rotating through the houses of several people. It is known that this tradition existed at least since the beginning of the twentieth century. However, it was not until 1999 when a stronger devotion to Maria Auxiliadora was established in Sant Joan d’Alacant. In that year a group of women from Sant Joan agreed to create an association in our town as a neighbouring subsidiary of the one located in El Campello that existed for a long time ago. For the first time the  festival was celebrated around the onomastics of the Virgin with epicentre in the neighbourhood of Canyaret, where several of the promoters of this new festival lived in. In just a short time, the festival grew and consolidated, and in 2002 the association became independent from the one in El Campello. Coinciding with this fact, the existing square in the neighbourhood was baptized as Maria Auxiliadora, installing there a small coffer with a ceramic mural of the Virgin. Shortly after, a new image was created and placed in the chapel of the Rosary of the Parish Church.

maria auxiliadora

Nowadays, the festival lasts for the weekend after 24 May and consists of several events that begin with the extraordinary lighting of the neighbourhood on Friday afternoon. In the evening there are open-air dances and live music, and during the day, parades with music band or ‘colla de dolçaina i tabalet’. The main events are the religious ones, especially the pilgrimage on Sunday afternoon, when the virgin walks through the streets of Canyaret, decorated for the occasion with banners, blankets on the balconies, pots, flowers and myrtle or rosemary scattered everywhere. In the act there is music and the accompaniment of faithful and devotees of the Virgin along with the support of all the festive entities of Sant Joan. The event ends with the raffle of the home chapel of the Virgin that, as before, continues visiting the homes of the people who register to participate. The Virgin is moved to the house and fireworks put an ending touch to the celebration.