Antonio Martínez was born in Lebrija, Seville province, 30 years ago and since 2019 he has been a soldier with the Spanish Legion and based in Viator (Almeria). Last week, on Good Friday, he was due to take part in the procession of the Virgen de las Angustias Coronada in Vélez-Malaga and thought: “It’s now or never.”
A few hours before the procession began, he and some military colleagues were carrying out an exhibition in the Plaza de Las Carmelitas, in the town centre, and his relatives and friends were also there, watching. With them was his girlfriend, 28-year-old María Saray Gutiérrez. “I had been wanting to propose to her since 2020, but because of the pandemic I decided to wait,” he told SUR at the weekend.
The videos filmed by their relatives and friends spread like wildfire on social media that evening. “Nobody expected it to happen, and it all went perfectly because my family were all there and they didn’t suspect a thing,” he said, proudly. The couple plan to marry within a year. “We have been together for 11 years, so it was about time,” he said.
At Easter in 2019, which was the last time the processions had taken place, another legionnaire based in Almeria also proposed to his girlfriend. Óscar Mendoza, from Ubrique, asked Rocío to marry him on Maundy Thursday that year, while the soldiers of the Spanish Legion were disembarking from their ship in Malaga port. “I saw that, and thought it was a brilliant idea,” said Antonio.
On Good Friday, the procession of the Virgen de las Angustias Coronada commemorated the centenary of this religious brotherhood. People packed the streets to watch it pass, and the legionnaires sang their anthem ‘El novio de la Muerte’ as they passed through the Plaza de la Constitución. It was very special, and added even more to what for Antonio and María Saray was already an emotional day.