Our Lady’s birthday is generally celebrated by the Catholic Church on the 8th September and so this date has been adopted as an opportunity to honour the different images of Mary. In Malaga, people celebrate the feast day of the patron of the city, ‘Our Lady of Victory’.
As her name would suggest, the ‘Virgen de la Victoria’ is venerated due the role she is believed to have played in various military victories.
The first was in 1571 at the battle of Lepanto, near Greece, when the Holy League (made up of Spain and the Papacy among others) fought the Ottoman Empire. Christians prayed the Rosary in St. Peter’s Square in Rome in the hope that Mary would intercede for them, winning them God’s help in keeping the Muslim Empire out of Western Europe. A miraculous victory was won.
In Malaga itself, a statue of Our Lady of Victory is thought to have been kept in Ferdinand’s chapel in the military encampment during the siege when Malaga was re-conquered by the Catholic King and Queen. In 1867, Pope Pius IX appointed this image of Mary as patron of the city. The Church was inaugurated in 1700 and it is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Malaga that is Our Lady Virgen de la Victoria
Thus the 8th September is a local holiday. On the last Sunday in August, in preparation for the feast day, the image of the ‘Virgen de la Victoria’ is taken to Malaga cathedral where a novena (a particularly powerful way of praying the Rosary) is said in devotion to Our Lady. On Wednesday there will be a procession much like those one sees during Semana Santa, during which the image is carried to the Santuario de la Victoria in the Plaza Santuario, near the Plaza de la Merced. If you won’t be around Malaga at Easter time then this is not to be missed!