RELIGION

Sunken Virgin Mary Statue Makes Fleeting Appearance Above Ground

Residents of the Spanish city of Algeciras pull this statue from the murky depths of their bay every year.

A beloved statue of the Virgin Mary made a brief appearance on Monday in a southern Spanish city before returning to its underwater resting place.

Known in the city of Algeciras as the Virgin of Palm, the statue spends most of the year inside a cave in the Bay of Gibraltar. During the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15, divers drop into the bay to retrieve the statue, giving residents and tourists a chance to see the lady up close.

According to Getty, this annual tradition began in 1975. Locals have linked the practice to an event that supposedly took place in the seventeenth century. Legend has it that an Italian ship docked at Algeciras’ busy port centuries ago to wait out a heavy storm. On board the ship, the crew members found a box with an image of the Virgin Mary holding a palm leaf. It was only when the crew removed that box from the ship that the sea became calm once again.

Scroll through the slideshow below to see images of this celebration.

  • An image of the Virgin of Palm is held by a string as divers take it to the surface during the yearly Virgin of Palm mar
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    An image of the Virgin of Palm is held by a string as divers take it to the surface during the yearly Virgin of Palm maritime pilgrimage on August 15, 2016 in Algeciras, Spain.
  • The Our Lady of Palm maritime pilgrimage in Algeciras dates back to 1975.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    The Our Lady of Palm maritime pilgrimage in Algeciras dates back to 1975.
  • A priest amid worshippers wait for the arrival of the Virgin of Palm on El Rinconcillo beach.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    A priest amid worshippers wait for the arrival of the Virgin of Palm on El Rinconcillo beach.
  • Fishermen place the image of the Virgin of Palm on to a wooden base.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    Fishermen place the image of the Virgin of Palm on to a wooden base.
  • Fishermen place the image of the Virgin of Palm on a pedestal.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    Fishermen place the image of the Virgin of Palm on a pedestal.
  • Worshippers splash water at each other to celebrate the arrival of the Virgin of Palm.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    Worshippers splash water at each other to celebrate the arrival of the Virgin of Palm.
  • The image of the Virgin of Palm.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    The image of the Virgin of Palm.
  • Devotees at the festival.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    Devotees at the festival.
  • A young worshipper wears a necklace with a Virgin of Palm image.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    A young worshipper wears a necklace with a Virgin of Palm image.
  • A worshipper touches the Virgin of Palm.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    A worshipper touches the Virgin of Palm.
  • Fishermen carry the image of the Virgin of Palm back to the sea.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    Fishermen carry the image of the Virgin of Palm back to the sea.
  • The statue is carried out into the bay.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    The statue is carried out into the bay.
  • The statue is loaded into a boat.
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    The statue is loaded into a boat.
  • Fishermen and worshippers splash water after take the image of the Virgin of Palm back to the sea during the yearly Virgin of
    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
    Fishermen and worshippers splash water after take the image of the Virgin of Palm back to the sea during the yearly Virgin of Palm maritime pilgrimage at El Rinconcillo beach on August 15, 2016 in Algeciras, Spain. 
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