, Spain
GAUCÍN: Balcony of the Ronda Mountains where the Holy Child appeared to St. John of God.
The illustrious, always noble, very hospitable village of Gaucín.

Encounter in the Adelfilla
(by D. X Corbacho, Secretary of the Brotherhood of the Santo Niño)

I here relate a beautful and pious tradition which started in the year 1536 at the nearby Fountain of the Adelfilla. Juan Ciudad --- who one day would be admitted to the canon of Saints as San Juan de Diós (John of God) --- had an apparition of the child Jesús, who said to him, "Juan de Diós, Granada will be your cross. Testify to the fact of this apparition by giving Gaucín an image that represents me as a child."

Every September 7, from 1540 to 1546, Saint Juan de Diós spent the night in a pension, formerly called the "Mesón de los Alamos" (on the present street named Luis de Armiñan) and at dawn he climbed up the the Castle of the Eagle where he celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel of the Incarnation. He was able to sneak onto the altar a statue of the child, called thereafter the Holy Child (Santo Niño.)

(Today the chapel is called the Ermita del Santo Niño, and it was built on the remains of an Arab mosque in the 17th century. It has ornate plaster and stucco work, and in a side chapel has a polichromed statue of St. Juan de Diós, while on the central altar there is a statue of the Santo Niño).

The statue of the Santo Niño that San Juan de Diós - Juan Ciudad - personally gave Gaucín appears to have belonged to the Sevillian School of Sculture, founded in the 16th century by Pedro Torrigiano.

The feasts in honor of the Santo Niño y St. Juan de Diós are celebrated every September 7 y 8. It is also the custom to make a procession the last Sunday in August from the church of San Sebastian to the spot where the Holy Chld appeared, the fountain of the Adelafilla, where there is the chapel of the Apparition (Ermita de la Aparición.)

The church of San Sebastian was built in 1505, and underwnet substantial remodeling in the 17th century. It has three naves separated by half point arches, in a barroque style though with remnants of a classical style.

The feast day of St. Juan de Diós is March 8, at which time mass and various other devotions are celebrated.

To end this brief but beautiful and extraordinary story I will copy the words which the great priest Nebreda (Capellán of the Basílica of Granada) spoke when he visited the Ermita de la "Adelafilla":

"Fruit of my labor
Hope of my affections
Joy of my heart"

The history of EL SANTO NIÑO (Holy Child)

In August of 1536 Juan Ciudad, a bookseller, was walking on the Roman road from Gibraltar to Gaucín while on a business trip. When he stopped to rest a few kilometers south of the village of Gaucín, he saw a child, barefoot. Juan offered the child his shoe, but as it was too big, he took the child on his shoulders and continued his journey up to the town. Juan, thirsty from the heat and tired with his load, stopped at the Adelfilla fountain for a drink (about 2 km. down the mountain from the town.) The child began to glow and held out a pomegranate with a cross stuck in it saying, "Juan de Dios, Granada will be your cross." ("Granada" is the Spanish word for pomegranate.)

Juan went to Granada where he founded a hospital for the poor. In 1540 he returned to Gaucín with an image of the Santo Niño which he placed clandestinely in the chapel at the castle.

The Brotherhood of the Holy Child (La Hermandad del Santo Niño)
More than 1,000 people belong to this group which is dedicating to propagate devotion to the Holy Child and San Juan de Diós. They are the ones who organize the novena, pilgrimage, processions and parties, and they care for the Chapel of the Holy Child up at the castle.