The town's famous statue of the Virgin was possibly commissioned by St Augustine and was possibly brought by Saint Cyprian during an invasion of the Vandals into Spain. The statue was placed in Chipiona and was venerated in the local monastery by the Augustinians. Times were good. The Virgin enjoyed a peaceful life in her Augustinian hermitage for three centuries; then it was time to flee again. This time the invaders were Muslim Saracens and she went under ground. The monks hid her in an underground cistern next to a fig tree where she remained for 500 years.
Only in the C13th did Our Lady finally reveal where the precious treasure was to be found. Rediscovery of the statue, chalice and lamp encouraged new devotion to Our Lady of Rule and the first known miracles were being recorded by 1330. Pilgrims flocked to see her from all across the country. The Black Madonna apparently freed prisoners, saved sailors from shipwrecks, prevented children from drowning in wells and healed the sick.
Although devotion to Our Lady of Rule reached its peak in the C18th, the monastery and sanctuary fell somewhat into decline and were not restored until the middle C19th. A small chapel near the great sanctuary marks the place where Our Lady of Regla was found centuries ago, and the cistern and fig tree are still looked after carefully.
Today 8th of September is still celebrated each year as the feast day of Our Lady of Rule, the birthday of the Virgin. Festivities begin with a vigil the night before, followed by fireworks, processions and wine.
Our Lady of Rule Sanctuary
Our Lady of Rule statue
Our Lady of Rule's influence lasted! Today Chipiona is still only a small seafaring town on the Atlantic coast, yet it is boxing above its weight. The key facilities still have a connection to the sea and are mostly found close to the beaches. The port, for example, is located in the west of the town and has moorings for hire, as well as a sailing school. The long stretches of white sandy beaches are very attractive, and full of Seville-ites topping up their city tans.
Chipiona lighthouse, 69 ms tall
set right on the beautiful beach
Note the keeper's house and facilities, at base of lighthouse tower