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El Camino Europeo del Rocío: A Pilgrimage towards Europe?

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image of Journal of Religion in Europe

In 2000, a reunion of 'Eurocrats' founded the Brotherhood of Brussels in honour of the Virgen del Rocío and became quickly integrated in the official network that foments the devotion to the South Spanish Virgin Mary. Soon after, a pilgrimage trail was inaugurated that links the basilica of Brussels to her chapel in the hamlet of El Rocío: the Camino Europeo del Rocío. The pilgrimage passes through eight major Marian sanctuaries in Belgium, France, and Spain. In each of these sites, a representation of the Virgen del Rocío was put in place by the official institutions. In 2007, ten pilgrims actually walked the trail. Once in Madrid, they changed the original track and inaugurated two additional sanctuaries without the consent of the main organizer of the original camino. As such, a variant came into existence: the Camino Europeo del Rocío a pie. The creation of these two 'European' pilgrimage trails shall be documented together with the founding process of the brotherhood of Brussels. The manner in which local political and ideological agendas interfere with the intertwining of old traditions and institutions, such as pilgrimages and Brotherhoods, and new emerging conceptions of 'Europe,' shall thereby be put to the fore.


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