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The traditional "baixada" saw hundreds of resident accompany the image in descent to the town

Monday 5th March 2018

JAVEA NEWS | Jesus Nazareno 2018 - La Baixada

Hundreds of residents of Xàbia carrying lighted candles, some walking barefoot, accompanied the town's treasured image of Jesús Nazareno on Sunday evening in the traditional "baixada", the descent to the heart of the historic centre where it will sit inside the church of San Bartolomé for the next eight weeks over the Easter period and during the fiestas held in its honour at the end of April and beginning of May.

The image, the original of which arrived in the town more than 250 years as a gift from the Duchess of Medinacelí, was carried proudly on the shoulders of devotees young and old, a special honour for those chosen to do so. It's not a long journey from the iconic blue-domed chapel of Calvario where the image sits for much of the year but it's carried out in increasing darkness, despite the way being lit by several hundred torches carried by well-dressed residents.

The devotion to this treasured image of the Christ is almost unique in a country that has strong Marian traditions - "Spain, the Land of Mary" - and especially across the lands of the former Kingdom of Valencia which adopted the Marian devotion of the Crown of Aragon. The image arrived in Xàbia in October 1767. Legend has is that its original destination was Dénia, the Dukes of Medinaceli having shipped it from Sevilla in the south, but stormy seas prevented the vessel carrying it from rounding Cabo de San Antonio and it was decided the land the image in Xàbia. And here it remained. The story is a popular one that confirms the long and sometimes bitter rivalry between the two towns. Others insist that the image was always intended for Xàbia as a gift of thanks for the town's congratulations on the birth of the Duchess of Medinaceli's first child. Sadly much of the archival documentation about the image was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. As was the original image, set ablaze in the Placeta del Convent; a replacement was created after the war and in 1967, on the 200th anniversary of its arrival in Xàbia, it was declared perpetual mayor of the town and the baton of office lies at its feet.

As the town band played, the procession made its way slowly down the hill, stopping regularly to rest increasingly sore shoulders and swap positions. Ahead, the image of Mary, Mother of Christ, was also being carried on the shoulders of the devoted. As the bells of the church rang out across the valley, the first image was carefully carried into the church to be welcomed by generous applause. Not long afterwards, the image of Jesús Nazareno arrived in the church square where the men took a well-deserved breather before lifting the image back onto their shoulders for the last time and carrying it up the steps of San Gill to the door where they were forced to lower it to almost knee level to get the image through the opening and into the church. Once again there was great applause as the image was carried to the front of the congregation and carefully lifted into position where it will remain for the next two months until May 3rd when it will be carried back up the hill to the chapel of Calvario at the end of the fiestas in its honour. But this won't be the first time. At sunrise on Good Friday it will be carried up the Via Crucis to the chapel and back down again. Later on the same day, as the sun dips towards the horizon, it will form part of the solemn procession around the historic centre.

More photos from La Baixada can be viewed on our Facebook page here >>

Discover more about the treasured image of Jesús Nazareno and the fiestas which honour it by clicking here >>


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