Fray Pascual Saturio arrived in Cadiz in 1988, already a Dominican priest, and it does not seem that there are many people who know as much about the intense relationship of the capital of Cadiz with the Blessed Virgin, as this man full of vitality.
The presence of the Virgin of the Rosary among the men of the sea comes from the naval victory of Lepanto (1571) and is deeply rooted in Cadiz. Fray Pascual speaks to Omnes from the sanctuary of our Lady of the Rosary. Our Lady of the Rosaryin the temple of Santo Domingoalthough popularly people call it Santo Domingo, precisely because the Rosary, the devotion to the Rosary, and the presence of the monks here, has as a circumstance the black slaves".
In fact, "the black slaves that were not taken to America stayed here in the city. They came from Angola and Mozambique, which was a part of Africa evangelized by the Dominican friars. And they were the ones who set up the confraternity [of the Virgin] which was a shelter, a kind of private insurance, so that all of them could have medicine, a doctor, a small pension at the end... And they placed it under the shelter of the Virgin of the Rosary".
They asked for a friar, who came from Sanlúcar, Fr. Luis CastendaPascual, around 1620-1622, who came with them as chaplain, explains Fr. Pascual, and they started the small chapel of the Virgin.
"In total, that between the presence of the blacks, and the Rosary in Cadiz, and the victory of Lepanto, was when the Virgin achieved the patronage over the city of Cadiz, and to be Patroness of the city. And in the same sanctuary are the two images, that of the Virgin of the Rosary, life-size, and the Galeona".
We first asked Fray Pascual for historical dates, and his arrival in Cadiz.
Since when is the Virgin of the Rosary the Patron Saint of Cadiz?
- The Virgin of the Rosary has been the Patron Saint of Cadiz for 150 years. The pontifical appointment of the Virgin is 152 or 153 years ago, and we celebrate it. But there is evidence that more than three hundred years ago the people, and the city council, considered her Patroness of Cadiz, although the appointment is later.
And you, how many years have you been there, in the convent of Santo Domingo?
- I came in 1988, and from then until now, 2022, I am here in the convent, and I am still a conventual. Life goes by fast.
And he has been a prior since then? Rector?
- When we had a community and there was a larger group of Dominicans, I was doing the services that the community asked me to do. Among them, the prior's service a couple of times. And then, when the work of adapting the house began, because we wanted to build a provincial infirmary, and then it could not be done and we had to leave a part of it for a guest house.
All that time I have been here alone, and I have been the main responsible for the sanctuary of the Virgin and for those things that have been under the care of the convent. And right now, now that the work on the house is finished, I am still responsible for the sanctuary, the one in charge. Well, rector, yes, which is the office and the main occupation of the house now. And since it is a single friar, there is no priory.
One last question about you, and we will move on to talk about Our Lady. When did you enter the Dominicans and become a priest, Bro Pascual?
- I joined the Order in 1978. And then Cardinal Amigo Vallejo, may he rest in peace, ordained me a priest in 1984. So I entered the Order of Preachers, of the Word and at the service of the Word, in 78, and a year later I professed as a Dominican, which is what the common people call us.
Let's go to the Virgin. The feast of the Patroness is in October, but as all the feasts of the Virgin are beautiful, we do it now.
- Of course.
How do you see the devotion to Our Lady in Cádiz? Do the people of Cádiz go there to pray to their Patron Saint?
- Look, it happens with the Patron Saint exactly as it happens with mothers to all Spaniards. Maybe we are not very effusive, nor are we saying all day long, "I am not very effusive. I love youWe do not kiss her all day long, but nevertheless, in the heart of each one of us, the person of your mother occupies more than half of our heart. That is what happens with Our Lady of the Rosary.
This sanctuary here, in Cadiz, is not a sanctuary like the other big sanctuaries... However, in all the people of Cadiz, the patronage of the Virgin and the affection for the Virgin of the Rosary, effectively, as their Mother and their family, is well established in their hearts and in their conscience. That is true.
This is a city in which there are many churches and many images, and throughout the year there are many religious circumstances to celebrate. But nevertheless, in the interior of each heart, they have placed their altar, and they never leave the Virgin.
You have a brotherhood, don't you?
- Yes. The Archconfraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. It is of the whole Order and it is universal. It is the group of the faithful. Here they are about three or three hundred and fifty. It is a group of faithful that has as a commitment, at least once a week, to pray a part of the Rosary, and then to participate in the life of the sanctuary, in the cult of the Virgin, in collaboration with the friars. And they do not cease to be part of the Dominican family, and part of the Order in that sense.
Here for years an area of the convent was used as a broadcasting studio, and every day the Rosary prayer was rebroadcast from the convent. When this retransmission was lost, it is necessary to remember that the Spanish Episcopal Conference, and even the Order, wanted to buy the necessary and sufficient space to retransmit every day the prayer of the Rosary by the necessary radio stations. But this did not come to fruition.
And now the value of the means of diffusion that you have is being highlighted once again. Look at the television network, Radio Maria, and those elements that have also been put into operation in some dioceses, the success they are having. Because many people, not only the elderly and the sick, while they are doing their things at home, can at the same time be praying and thus participate in the prayer of the Church.
Tell us about the Patroness of the city, and about the Galeona. Those of us who do not know the history well may confuse them.
- They are two different images. One is the Patroness of Cadiz, the image of the Patroness, life-size, and it is always in its altar, in its sanctuary. By the way, here was born, in the convent, the devotion to the first image, that of the Virgen del Carmen, and it was born here because we Dominicans arrived in Cadiz before the Discalced Carmelites, and when they came, we took the Virgin there to her temple.
Well, here in Cadiz, every year there were three military expeditions that had to preserve the merchant navy in the middle of the sea, precisely because of the piracy of the English, Portuguese and those who were dedicated to stealing at sea. That armed fleet, which preserved the merchant navy, was called galleons. And one of the captains of the fleet that went every year from Cadiz to Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia, had the idea: 'Man, why don't we embark the image we have in our chapel'.
They had here in the convent the chapel of the mainland, to bury the admirals and the most important ones who died. Why don't we take the image that we have in our chapel? While we are at sea, it comes and goes with us. And then in the time of rest, here in Cadiz, it is in the convent'.
And so the Blessed Virgin was embarked annually for more than 150 years in that fleet. It is the second image of the Virgin of the Rosary, a carving of 70 to 75 centimeters. When the commercial transit disappeared, and trade began to be done by other means, airplanes, etc., the image remained here in the convent.
But then they embarked the Galeona and it began to sail around the world...
- Yes, it was when it came to the training ship Juan Sebastián Elcanowhich is the ship of the Spanish Navy, where the sailors do their last courses. The men of the Armada, with the mayor and the prior of the time, came up with the idea that when the Elcano goes around the world, why don't we embark the Galeona. She comes with us and we make her present in the whole world remembering the presence of the Virgin of the Rosary among the men of the sea since the time of Lepanto, since the naval victory of Lepanto. And so it was done.
And now, lately, she has sailed around the world six times. And every year, we go with her, we make a small procession, sailors and us, to the farewell of Elcano, which is still in the dock of Cadiz.
The image of the Virgin of the Rosary, Patroness, of natural size, the one that is in the sanctuary, dressed, that one has not been embarked. It has been embarked on occasion, sporadically, when we have taken it on some visit to the parishes or in some marine act in the dock, but very sporadically. The one that always embarks is the second image of the Virgin of the Rosary, which we also have here in the convent.
Off the microphone, one last question, which we also pick up at the end. The Pope wears white because of the Dominicans, the story goes. And Bro Pascual comments on it.
- It's like this. The Pope dressed like a cardinal until he was Pope Pius V, Saint Pius V. He was very fond of his Dominican habit, and he was elected Pontiff, and he was the one who said, well, that's fine. But I am not going to change now my usual way of dressing, my habit, to carry out the task that you entrust to me.
And if you look at our habit, the habit of the Pope is the same, what happens is that they have added the sash on which carries his coat of arms, and then the hood has removed the peak behind, which is the sign of the mendicants. The friars who have a hood, and the hood ends in a beak, it is because we live of the work in the midst of others. To the Pope, as his work is another way, the hood is rounded, removing the peak of the mendicancy, but it is exactly the same habit. And the Pope is still the one who wears white in the Church.
Friar Pascual concludes by saying, on his own initiative and without question: "Now in this time, in this Western Europe, this way of life that we are leading, has many gaps and many difficulties. I think it needs a turnaround. It happened in Roman times, and also then they were so sure: the Roman empire will fall. Well, it fell. The same difficulties that families and the social order are having, and the way we have been living, are affecting religious orders and the Church. Because we are part of all, and in the world we are with you".
Today, and this is ours, we turn to the Virgin, the Virgin of Mount Carmel, the Virgin of the Rosary, and the invocations that each one wishes. Who does not have a Carmen in his family, near or far, and a Rosary close to him!