Saint Vincent is València’s Patron Saint (his relics, an arm, are guarded at the Col•legi Imperial dels Xiquets Orfes de Sant Vicent Ferrer). His holiday is April 5th, but popular celebrations are held on the Monday after Resurrection Sunday. Some towns erect stages and altars during the Easter week where children feature in The Miracles, short plays in Valencian that recreate the Saint’s miracles with a pedagogical purpose that culminates with a type of moral lesson. The Vincentine groups of people that construct the altars are named the same as them i.e. altars. They are the base of the association that are responsible for keeping and maintaining this long tradition and passing it on to subsequent generations.
Easter celebrations are markedly popular, as evidenced by the survival of traditional games, friend and family gatherings, kite-flying, traditional sweets like mones and panous, and typical foodstuffs such as llonganissa de Pasqua (cured sausage).
The most important events held on the second Easter weekend include a flower offering to the Saint at his home on Carrer del Mar and the procession to the Vincentine sites, which finishes in Saint Steve’s Church, where he was baptised. It is precisely around the baptismal font that the bults de Sant Vicent are currently on display. These papier-mache figures, dressed in 15th century attire, represent the characters that attended Saint Vincent’s baptism. The raising and lowering of the Saint’s image from each altar are notable as particularly intense and emotional moments.
Saint Vincent’s holiday is complemented by the Children’s Festival at Carrer San Vicent on the first Monday in June. A great many children participate in this event. It is a very old festivity that pays homage to the first site of Saint Vincent’s Orphans School, set up by the Saint following an initiative by the Congregation of The Beguines to offer shelter to children that had been abandoned in the streets.
Over time, the neighbours decided to institutionalise the processions of Sant Vicent Street on the second Pentecostal day and to set up a children’s association under Saint Vincent’s patronage. It was in 1625 that it took effect under the name ‘Festes dels xiquets del carrer Sant Vicent’. The Patron Saint festa has been held ever since on an annual basis.