Photos: Remains of a native saint keep light on a fading Spanish town

Dressed in their best attire, villagers rush to join neighbours for the patron saint festival in the Spanish town of Mayorga, a 282-year-old annual tradition that older residents religiously keep alive and fear might die off when they do. A two-part procession honoring Saint Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo y Robledo marks the night his relics were sent to his native Mayorga. He died in 1606 while serving as archbishop in Lima, Perú and received sainthood more than a century later.

Updated On Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST
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A villager dressed up in old clothes and wearing a hat takes part in the procession of El Vítor in the town of Mayorga, northwest Spain. The procession of El Vítor, as locals refer to the festival, celebrates the night when the remains of a celebrity missionary from the 16th century, Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo y Robledo, returned to the wind-swept Spanish town. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

A villager dressed up in old clothes and wearing a hat takes part in the procession of El Vítor in the town of Mayorga, northwest Spain. The procession of El Vítor, as locals refer to the festival, celebrates the night when the remains of a celebrity missionary from the 16th century, Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo y Robledo, returned to the wind-swept Spanish town. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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Villagers carry the carving of Saint Toribio during an afternoon procession . Attendance remains strong at the festival, which locals call El Vítor, but there are widespread worries in the wind-swept rural town as families and young adults keep leaving Mayorga for cities with jobs and better services. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

Villagers carry the carving of Saint Toribio during an afternoon procession . Attendance remains strong at the festival, which locals call El Vítor, but there are widespread worries in the wind-swept rural town as families and young adults keep leaving Mayorga for cities with jobs and better services. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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The procession is based on local lore saying that the night Saint Toribio’s relics were returned in 1737, town residents went outside with flaming torches to welcome the holy man’s relics and to illuminate the way home. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

The procession is based on local lore saying that the night Saint Toribio’s relics were returned in 1737, town residents went outside with flaming torches to welcome the holy man’s relics and to illuminate the way home. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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Saint Toribio died in 1606 while serving as archbishop in Lima, Perú and received sainthood more than a century later. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

Saint Toribio died in 1606 while serving as archbishop in Lima, Perú and received sainthood more than a century later. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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Jesús María de la Viuda dresses his daughter before the procession of El Vítor. De la Viuda, an energy consultant, talks nostalgically about how past processions were more joyous when he was a boy and the town’s population was bigger. He is committed to passing on the tradition to the town’s next generation as he dressed his 10-year-old daughter Natalia in old clothes, gloves and a large hay hat. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

Jesús María de la Viuda dresses his daughter before the procession of El Vítor. De la Viuda, an energy consultant, talks nostalgically about how past processions were more joyous when he was a boy and the town’s population was bigger. He is committed to passing on the tradition to the town’s next generation as he dressed his 10-year-old daughter Natalia in old clothes, gloves and a large hay hat. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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But De la Viuda still says that both the daytime procession, when the saint’s image and relics are paraded through Mayorga, and the one held at night, when locals raise poles with burning leather wineskins as torches, have a magical effect on participants. “It’s like being in trance,” he said. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

But De la Viuda still says that both the daytime procession, when the saint’s image and relics are paraded through Mayorga, and the one held at night, when locals raise poles with burning leather wineskins as torches, have a magical effect on participants. “It’s like being in trance,” he said. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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Dripping tar from burning torches stains the clothing and hats of people in the processions. De la Viuda made sure only Natalia’s eyes were exposed and told her to keep looking down as they walked so she wouldn’t get burned. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

Dripping tar from burning torches stains the clothing and hats of people in the processions. De la Viuda made sure only Natalia’s eyes were exposed and told her to keep looking down as they walked so she wouldn’t get burned. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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Villagers watch fireworks during the procession of El Vítor. At the Saint Toribio shrine, the father and daughter joined other penitents who were setting their wineskins alight. “Let’s burn,” De la Viuda said, as the two disappeared into clouds of smoke. (Bernat Armangue / AP)
Updated on Oct 03, 2019 12:46 PM IST

Villagers watch fireworks during the procession of El Vítor. At the Saint Toribio shrine, the father and daughter joined other penitents who were setting their wineskins alight. “Let’s burn,” De la Viuda said, as the two disappeared into clouds of smoke. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

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