Our Lady of Carmen is to be crowned by the Bishop of Malaga next year. Josele
Marbella's patron saint to be crowned in special ceremony by Bishop

Marbella's patron saint to be crowned in special ceremony by Bishop

The Virgen del Carmen has been worshipped in the town since the 18th century

David Lerma


Tuesday, 7 November 2023


The Virgen del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) of Marbella will be crowned by the Bishop of Malaga on 26 October 2024, the highest ecclesiastical recognition that an image of Our Lady can receive. Patron of Marbella since 16 July 2012, the news has delighted the 1,200 members of her brotherhood. "It is a dream come true," said Raúl Domínguez from the brotherhood who spoke to SUR.

Domínguez said that 2024 will be full of devotional events, but that the traditional celebrations on 16 July, Día del Carmen, will remain the same as every year: “We only found out about it recently. We are giving shape to what the events will be prior to the coronation, but we will maintain the tradition on her feast day, as in previous years."

He went on to say, "We do hope that the coronation day will be special, but that is something we will gradually decide. It will be a holiday day for the whole town. We are sure that we will increase the number of brothers and sisters [in the brotherhood], as happened the year she became patron saint."

Origins of devotion

The first documented reference to Marbella’s devotion to the Virgen del Carmen dates back to the 18th century. According to local historian Francisco Moreno, "in 1764 a tabernacle was installed in what is now Calle Carmen, entering what was Calle Pilar de los Herreros, and today Los Remedios". It was the work of a devout man whose last wish was to erect a place of worship to Our Lady which was written in his will.

In 1865 it was looked after by Paula Marmolejo, the wife of Miguel Domínguez Ibarra, who was a leading figure in Marbella. "It belonged to the Domínguez family, the family that owned the Cortijo de Miraflores,” he explained. At the same time many girls born in Marbella were named Carmen.

"The worship of the Virgen del Carmen was introduced in Spain by the Carmelite order. She was not only the patron saint of sailors, but also of the Brotherhood of the Blessed Souls, which was connected to the idea of souls entering purgatory," added the historian.

This explains why it began to be included in wills. "In fact, as I have written, Calle Carmen referred to the entrance to purgatory. It was the first step before reaching the Castle cemetery. The Virgen del Carmen had an influence on who went to heaven and who went to hell," he said.

Solemn act

The coronation is a solemn liturgical act in which a crown is placed on the head of Our Lady, recognising that she "has devotional influence" on the town that worships her. "She will have special treatment and a more illustrious recognition," said Marbella chronicler Francisco Moyano,

The rite will be officiated by Jesús Catalá, Bishop of Malaga, who included her as patron saint in an ecclesiastical decree. The proceedings started in 2021."Considering how slowly these matters usually go it has been relatively quick," Domínguez acknowledged.

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