The origins of the Royal and Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Lady Mother of God go back countless years, to when the townspeople offered prayers for their deliverance from plague and disease. The Virgin was the patron of a weavers’ guild in the 17th century, and four of the craftsmen funded the altarpiece which can be seen today in the church of San Francisco, where the brotherhood has its seat. The altarpiece is attributed to Juan de Dios Santaella, and the central figure of Our Lady is the work of the Granadan school, dating from the second half of the 17th century. The paintings which frame the altarpiece reflect the family names of the craftsmen who funded it.
For many years, the cofradia held its festivities in March, with seven days of worship and a procession. But because of a lack of documentary evidence, it cannot be established for certain when this ceased – perhaps it coincided with a fall in numbers or even the disbanding of the weavers’ guild at the heart of the organisation. In the middle of the last century, however, a group of supporters breathed new life into the guild, with the setting up of a governing committee to re-establish the ceremonies and the annual celebrations which now are held in the month of May. The first procession took place during a time of drought, so it was decided that the image of Our Lady should be paraded along the Balcón del Adarve.
To encourage young people, the brotherhood created a new branch, whose tasks are to carry the image and its platform on their shoulders, organise the route through the streets of the town, the decoration of the altarpiece, and help with the traditional auction.
In 1967, the icon was restored by Don Manuel Arjona Navarro: the dais was restored by the local craftsman Don Cristóbal Cubero Molina. In the 1970s, the Priego Scout group adopted Our Lady Mother of God as its patron, and more recent times have seen the formation of the Band of Drums and Bearers of the Virgin.