The “Hermanos de la Aurora” (Brotherhood of the Aurora) is a four hundred-year-old group of musicians which every Saturday night walks the streets of Priego singing popular songs, always with the same melody, to encourage devoted people to pry the rosary and praise God, the Saints and their Mother, the Virgin of La Aurora.
This public rosary was originally composed only by men, but lots of women wanted to participate too. This fact caused some incidents and women were forbidden to attend the rosary for many years.
On July the 28th 1780, at ten past nine in the afternoon, the rosary of La Aurora bumped into the rosary of Las Mercedes at the intersections of the streets Alba, Cañamero, Torrejón and Nueva. They started to insult each other, creating a great uproar. This was the origin of the popular saying “acabar como el Rosario de la Aurora” (end up badly).
There is another saying related to this Brotherhood: “pides más que los Hermanos de la Aurora” (“you are more demanding than the Aurora Brotherhood”). This is because every Saturday, a member of the Brotherhood carries a money box to collect donations.
The Brotherhood La Aurora is undoubtedly one of the most rooted traditions of Priego and very appreciated by visitors.
Brief history of the Brotherhood
This venerable brotherhood has its origins in the XVII century. It was known as “Congregation of the Holy Rosary” and had its seat in the hermitage of San Nicasio.
The most ancient documents about this brotherhood date back to 1699. The brotherhood’s name was Nuestra Señora del Rosario, but three years later it was changed by Nuestra Señora de la Aurora. Their original statutes were lost shortly after so we don’t have any information about its founders or the foundation date. In 1706, the brotherhood decided to buy a carving of Nuestra Señora de la Aurora, because they only had a statue of Nuestra Señora del Rosario. They thought this would increase popular devotion. Antonio Alegre, president of the brotherhood, and Francisco Valdivia, one of his assistants, went to Granada and ordered it.
The hermitage of La Aurora was restored in 1711, when another president, Bartolomé Madrid, decided to create an altarpiece. Its construction finished in 1722, as written in the cornice.
The co-titular of the brotherhood is Saint Nicasius, patron saint of Priego. He was born in Reims, France, in the IV century. He became bishop of his city in 394 and was the founder of the new cathedral, built over the ancient basilica of the “Holy Apostles” and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
When Vandals invaded Reims, Nicasius refused to leave the city and encouraged its inhabitants to stay there and die as martyrs. In 407, Vandals killed him together with a deacon called Florencio and a reader called Jocundo before the cathedral. He was beheaded while praying a psalm and the legend says his head kept talking after separating from his body.
Devotion for Saint Nicasius in Priego dates back to the XVI century, when the Marquis of Priego recovered from bubonic plague after praying to him. In August 1528, it was decided to celebrate the recovery of the marquis by a great party before the church of San Nicasio.
So, as people though Saint Nicasius could protect them from infectious diseases, he became the saint patron of our city.
However, there were two important facts which consolidate this devotion. The first was the foundation in the XVI of the school San Nicasio for Saint John of Ávila. This was the primary school of many inhabitants of Priego, which increased the devotion for the saint.
The second fact was the donation of his relics in 1581, brought to Spain by the sub-lieutenant Francisco Márquez. A procession was organized on December the 14th of the same year and in the following years to celebrate it, so it became a tradition.
The Brotherhood La Aurora organises several activities during the year, but the most important are:
-The Vía Crucis (“Way of the Cross”) which takes place Saturday before Palm Sunday. Members of the Brotherhood carry the Cristo de las Ánimas, dating back to the XVI century. This same Christ is also worshiped on Maundy Thursday night.
-The procession of the Virgen de la Aurora takes place the second week of September, when we celebrate her feast. During that week there are masses to honour the Virgen de la Aurora and finally a raffle, where the most characteristic prizes are the “moñas”, a bunch of jasmine.
-The group of musicians “Hermanos de la Aurora”, one of the most rooted traditions of Priego.