Every July 16 sees the celebration of the Virgen del Carmen, the Patron Saint of fishermen and sailors.
Tradition has it that the Carmelite monks, who inhabited the slopes of Mount Carmel and worshipped the Virgin Mary who had appeared there in a vision, were forced to flee by a Saracen invasion force. During this eviction the Virgin appeared to them again and promised to be their â€˜Star of the Seaâ€™ and to guide them to safety.
Since then she has been the patron saint of mariners and, as such, the Virgen del Carmen is revered amongst the local fishing communities of southern Spain .
Virgen del Carmen is celebrated by the fishing communities in Sabinillas and Castillo. The Virgen del Carmen is Castillo de la Duquesaâ€™s Patron Saint and on her feast day â€“ the 16th July â€“ her images are placed on board the local fishing boats in two separate ceremonies: the first off the beach at Sabinillas amongst much pomp and ceremony (this can be quite a â€˜hairyâ€™ operation, especially if the sea is a bit lively); and the second in the Port of Duquesa. The two boats bearing the Virgens, along with with a flotilla of fishing and pleasure craft, then parade up and down the coast from the Salt Tower to Chullera before disembarking in Sabinillas and the marina at Puerto de la Duquesa to be borne back to her place of honour in the churches at Sabinillas and Castillo respectively.
If the sea is too rough, particularly during strong easterly winds, the Sabinillas â€˜Virgenâ€™ will be paraded along the beach rather than taken to sea and the Castillo â€˜Virgenâ€™ will remain in Duquesa Port.