Virgen de Los Bañales

Joseph Bañales
en California dice:

The "Virgen de Los Bañales" was first discovered in the presently uninhabited " Roman Ruins of Los Bañales " near Zaragoza, Spain. Records of her existence can be found as early as the 12th Century. She was later moved to the nearby town of Uncastillo for protection where she can now be found at the church of Santa Maria.

In an attempt to enhance her appearance according to the standards of beauty of that time, the Virgin was subsequently dressed in white and had new black hair placed on her head, as seen in the holy card image at right. Current plans call for restoring her to something closer to her original appearance. Consequently, this old holy card has been discontinued and new ones will be available after her restoration is completed. Nevertheless, a strong devotion to her continues by the people who live in the surrounding communities and have loved her all their life.

Once a year, on the last Sunday in May, a number of these people follow the Virgin on a pilgrimage, "Romeria de la Virgen de Los Bañales," from Uncastillo back to her place of discovery in the Roman ruins. The 12 kilometer trek is walked by many hearty devout souls, while others opt to drive their cars. Still another group, composed of bicyclist who call themselves " Bicibañales ", piously ride their bicycles on a mostly paved road. Whatever travel means are utilized, the pilgrims arrive in the Roman ruins site staggered at different times on the morning of that most holy Sunday, meeting others that have already arrived.

Much to the chagrin of archeologists, people seem to scatter throughout the Roman ruins amongst unprotected ancient artifacts, some as old as the first Century, while congregating in small groups for renewed fellowship. Some even camp there. This faithful gathering is informal and small when compared to other famous religious pilgrimages. Nonetheless, these pilgrims are exceedingly devout and loyal to the Virgin.


Ntra. Sra. De Los Bañales

At an unspecified time, the pilgrims sense that it's time and begin to converge at a not fully completed and otherwise unoccupied chapel " Hermita de Bañales " where the Virgin has already been placed in the main altar for the celebration of a mass. Relics from the 16th Century are found in the facade of this chapel although the actual structure only dates back to the end of the 18th Century.

After the mass, pilgrims continue to venerate her by parading past her until sometime at the end of that same day when she is returned to Uncastillo. Festivities go on the entire weekend with concerts, dances, traditional foods, and a local version of running of the bulls " Encierros de Vaquillas ". It's not Pamplona, it's not touristy, but it's off-the-beaten track and definitely real. It must be Bañales!

Does any one out there know if there is a connection between The Roman Ruins of Los Bañales and our surname? Please send questions, answers, or comments.
Joseph Banales

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