The participation of a primitive Image dedicated to María Santísima de la Soledad in the Procession of the Holy Burial has been verified since its arrival in Cieza in the early years of one thousand six hundred. In fact, his Brotherhood was also in charge of certain functions of the Church, among them the descent on Good Friday: “…on Holy Biernes in the morning, take from the convent of this Villa to its Parochial Church for the function of his descent to the Santo Christo who is in another convent so that his stage can be formed in mourning...", this was stated in 1712 by the alderman D. Francisco Marín-Ordóñez when he stipulated that his descendants should continue to pay for them.
That first Image of "La Soledad" would have paraded at least during the 17th century and until the constitution of its own Brotherhood within the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ, as can be seen from a deed, dated 1671, of reception of belongings of the Image by the Mayordomo of the Brotherhood of the Blood from the hands of the widow who had been responsible: "In the town of Cieza on eighteen days of the month of August of one thousand six hundred and seventy-one years before My notary public and witnesses appeared present Francisco Perez Carpintero, the mayordomo of the brotherhood of the blood of Christ, a neighbor of this said town and said that due to the end and death of Lorenço Motellon, he had succeeded in the said brotherhood, who had it under his charge And I glimpsed before those who today recognize the clothes that the said brotherhood and the Virgin of Solitude have and the bestir ornaments. --- and I receive from Juana despinosa widow of said Lorenço Motellon the following goods and clothes..."
It is in 1692 when, together with the Brotherhood of Jesus of Nazareno, the Brotherhood of María Santísima de la Soledad, called in its origins and for a long time later the Brotherhood of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, requested its erection establishing its own constitutions to “be able to solemnize the holy week of each one of the processions that are held with these holy Ynsinias on Thursday and Friday”. However, the effective constitution did not take place until March 11, 1730, at which time the first Book of Minutes of the Brotherhood made explicit that its founders obtained the approval of the eighteen precepts by which they were to be governed by the Provisor and Vicar General of the Diocese, Dr. D. Francisco Linero y Lezcano. It is strange, to say the least, that such a long period of time elapsed between the constitution application and the constitution itself; It is possible, very remotely, that during those almost forty years the Brotherhood of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad had been associated with that of Jesús Nazareno (this can be thought following the testament of D. Juan Gómez de Aledo y Abellán: "and likewise may the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus and Our Lady of Solitude assist me and accompany my body, in attention to having been the Elder Brother of the same).
All the members of the Brotherhood, as stipulated in its Statutes, had social ancestry linked to the nobility and among them were names as illustrious in the town as those of Buitrago Angostos, Marín Castaño, Marín Ordóñez, Ruiz Soler, Marín Blázquez de Padilla, García Ruiz Melgarejo, Falcón, Marín Talón, de la Peña, Roldán, Yarza, Puche, Bermúdez or Abellán. Its rules restricted the number of confreres to thirty-four, although in some cases some were accepted as supernumerary, generally to make up for the loss of a sick confrere. Likewise, admission to the Brotherhood was made by presenting a memorandum that the Secretary read in the Board, after which a secret vote was taken to admit the applicant, distributing white beans, which gave the vote, and black beans, which denied it. The Brotherhood had to observe a very straight conduct, both moral and religious, based on the precepts included in its rules, and they had to attend the Procession dressed in rigorous mourning.
The Sisters began to form an active part of the Brotherhood in the middle of the 18th century, although practically since its foundation they figured in the Vela del Novenario and the Vela del Santísimo, and in the lighting of the Procession (the traditional "Lloronas", ladies dressed of rigorous mourning). Their number was initially limited to thirty-six, and they must also be wives or daughters of the Brothers themselves; this number, however, was enlarged at the beginning of the 19th century due to the desire of many ladies to appear in the Procession. In any case, altercations with "women who, due to their birth and exterior appearances, make the Act tarnish..." could not be avoided, which led to a series of curious measures to avoid them in the future; among them "it was resolved that four crimson velvet seats be made at the expense of the sisters themselves" with which to isolate the group of Sisters from the rest of the women who attended the Novenas. The plague epidemic of 1811 also influenced the Brotherhood in such a way that the following year even suitors who had not yet been admitted were allowed to parade.
The management positions were elected at the General Meeting, which was always held on the second Sunday of Easter, with the highest authority falling on the Big Brother, whose term of office lasted one year, and who was chosen in scrupulous order of seniority. The parish priest always attended the Cabildos of the Brotherhood as President. The rest of the responsibilities were shared by Secretary, Treasurer or Depositary, Discrete or Vocal (in number of six first and four later) and Will Collector, in charge of collecting from the testamentary executors the assets bequeathed to the Brotherhood; the elected members held office for a year, although it was common for them to be re-elected again or even held it for life.
From the outset the need for a person to take care of the Image and the belongings of the Brotherhood was felt, and so in 1730 Mrs. Inés Navarro, Sola y Martínez was appointed first Chambermaid of the Brotherhood, who was until the year of his death, 1735, passing the position to his daughter Catalina. Her obligations were none other than to dress and jewel the Image as required by the festivities. Since the middle of the 18th century, the trousseau of the Image has been kept in the sacristy of the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.
For his part, the Brotherhood who entered the Brotherhood had to pay a small amount (eight reales of silver) and provide a three-pound wax brazier, a commitment that was renewed every year. However, the Brotherhood did not always enjoy a good situation to deal with these donations. The Brotherhood, however, had other important sources of income: the testamentary mandates in favor of it, usual at that time (so in 1730: "as well as by the will by which Mrs. María Egipcíaca Artes endowed, bequeathed and commanded to Holy Mary with the title of Soledad fifty ducats in fleece coin by way of alms..."), and the alms that from its origins the Brotherhood were forced to ask for every Sunday and in every place. In 1743 it was agreed that the Big Brother was the one who designated four brothers to ask for alms, under a fine of two reales for each Sunday they failed to do so; The discomfort that this caused them motivated that in 1745 it was determined that the Andas de la Imagen would be carried by four men from outside the Brotherhood and that they themselves would ask for alms. However, until the first quarter of the 19th century, it was still normal for two Brotherhood members to "beg for alms from the dregs of silk, raisin, wool, wheat, barley and panizo", while remaining free during that year from complying with the one forced by the Brotherhood.
The Brothers, in addition to having the obligation to accompany the Blessed Sacrament on visits to the sick, to accompany the deceased Brothers at the burial and to say mass for them (customs that will fade until they are lost during the 20th century), were obliged to participate in all the acts of worship organized by the Brotherhood; The Novenario de Dolores, one of the most important, was promoted by the Brotherhood since 1730, and from the beginning of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century it was held jointly with the Brotherhood of Jesus Nazareno, renamed the Novenario de Jesús y Dolores Both Brotherhoods paying for the altar in equal parts, an altar whose construction began at the end of the 19th century and ended in 1908 after being gilded by Pedro Valch.
Likewise, since 1785 and at the end of the Procession of the Holy Burial in which, as has been said, it carried out a procession, the Brotherhood promotes the Sermon on Solitude, in force until the last third of the 20th century and of which a slight reminiscence is preserved today, as well as the Candle of the Image until six in the morning of Holy Saturday.
However, the Brotherhood also participated in other Processions: from 1784 and until the beginning of the last decade of the 19th century at the latest in the Good Friday morning procession ("It was present at this Board that for the best display of the Friday procession In the holy morning it seems regular that the Most Holy Mary attends her accompanied by her brothers, in imitation of when this Sovereign Lady followed her Most Holy Ijo in the Calle de Amargura up to Calvary..."), having done so since its origins and perhaps until the same date also on Holy Thursday next to Paso de Jesús Nazareno. Finally, on Easter Sunday, which the Sisters were obliged to attend with mantillas and white stockings, at first with the primitive Image of "La Soledad", which became the Virgin of Grace in 1759 after the construction of the new titular Image in 1749, and already in the second half of the 19th century with a newly made Image dedicated to Virgen del Amor Hermoso.
From the very beginning, the Image had its own altar in the parish church. Already in 1650 and until the demolition of the old parish church in the Chapel of the Padillas, and in the patronal chapel, the first next to the gospel, from 1719 until the construction in 1772 of their own, whose cost (eleven thousand nine hundred and fifty five reales and twenty-six maravedíes) was borne by the priest D. Martín Guerrero. Throughout the 19th century, small renovations followed one another: a first, paid for by Isidro Gómez, in 1874; the second, by Sánchez Araciel, in 1893; in 1894 the framework of carvings and moldings, and the gilding of the same is carried out. After the civil war, the restoration of the chapel was carried out by Palma Burgos, who also retouched the feet of the Image.
From the first Image of "La Soledad" of which we have reference, we know that it was commissioned in 1612 by D. Diego Padilla, although we do not know who. The Image that replaced it in 1749 (with the initial invocation of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad y Dolores), destroyed during the Civil War, was a work by Francisco Salzillo that the sculptor Sánchez Araciel restored in 1911; this is demonstrated by the contract of the same: "I say, D. Francisco Salzillo, resident of this city and master sculptor in it, that for this I oblige myself to do and terminate, for the entire month of February of the year that comes from one thousand seven hundred and forty-nine, and deliver to the lords of Talón and Marín-Blázquez in the Villa de Cieza, the image of María Santísima de la Soledad in the following form: The head of the Virgin, hands and feet with winders of eight spans so that you can dress in silk clothes; and base of the same wood, as appropriate. Notice fulfilled by the presbyter who mediated in the order, as corresponds to his notice by letter dated April 10, saying that the execution of said image has already been dealt with, prebinding me that for the sake of it the gentlemen of Talón and Marín-Blázquez give me one thousand rs . of fleece of the two thousand five hundred that is adjusted, and thus finished it will be delivered to said gentlemen, being their account the litter as they choose and mine the screws for their safety. Once the Virgin is cast with glass oxos, incarnation and colors that correspond and tears, the said gentlemen will give me the thousand five hundred rs. remaining, in this form for the entire month of December of this year or to the delivery of the Virgin as I stated in my letter. I sign it in Murcia on May 16, 1748. Signed José Talón; Signed Francisco Salzillo. Is a copy". Paid for by his Waitress Mrs. Piedad Jaén Talón and also dressed, like his predecessor, in 1942 the Murcian Imager Juan González Moreno made a replica of the previous one that, commissioned by his current Waitress, Mrs. Piedad Marín-Blázquez, It was restored in 1999 by Javier Bernal Casanova under the presidency of its current one, Mr. Pedro Escudero Mateo.
The first litters, whose artistic data and authorship we do not know, were replaced by new ones "with carved work, with four carved children, gilt, and the other requirements that were needed" in 1731, by others in 1784, and by a third "with carvings and gold" in 1856; but the throne in which he currently processions is due to the Maestro Pujante, who made it at the end of the last century; Subject to several restorations, the last one, which contemplated a new gilding of the same, was carried out in 1992 by the sculptor from Ciezano-Málaga Juan Solano.
The Image will treasure a rich trousseau over the years, of which a sumptuous gold-embroidered black velvet cloak made in the year 1900 at the Talleres Garín in Madrid is noteworthy, for a cost of fifteen thousand pesetas, and given to the Brotherhood for Mrs. Visitación Aguado Moxó, Mr. Isidro Gómez Marzo and Mr. Francisco González Condon. The cloak, which disappeared in the civil war, was found again in El Palmar (Murcia) in 1946 together with the tunic of Jesús Nazareno and recovered for the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood also had two scripts. The holder, made of black damask, was replaced by a new one in 1802 and this in turn by an identical one in 1872; Finally, in 1900, the current one was made at the Fleming Workshops, embroidered in gold on black velvet. The second, made of white damask and disappeared, was made in 1826, exclusively for its departure in the Procession of the Risen Jesus.
In 1994, when D. Ramón Valcárcel was President, the Brotherhood completely renewed the costume design of its anderos by replacing the one that had been in force since the mid-20th century and that had replaced, in turn, the first one designed in 1826; but it will be in 2005, under the mandate of D. Pedro Escudero, when the Brotherhood recovers the traditional “mucus cap” for its andero wardrobe.
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