It is not known precisely what period dates the beginning of the devotion to the Holy Christ of the Light in Dalias, although some legends told by the ancient inhabitants of the town indicate that the origin began in the 16th century. However, there are letters sent in 1804 by the parish priest of Dalias to the Bishop of Granada, in which it states with astonishment that the image of the Christ of the Light had remained intact after the earthquake that shook the town, and particularly the church in which he was in.
The original image of the Holy Christ of the Light was a work in bronze with an outstanding artistic merit, as recounted by Rodrigo Carreño in his medical topography. He also describes the dedication he was given by the population.
The Spanish Civil War devastated the original image of the Christ, but the faith of the parishioners remained intact, which is why the Seville artist Antonio Castillo Lastrucci was entrusted with creating the image we know today. This is how on May 3, 1939, the new image of the crucified Christ arrived at the Parochial Church of Saint Mary of Ambrox in Dalias, an image that stands out for its relaxation without extreme drama.
During the early hours of September 20, 1993, just after the celebrations, there was a fire that destroyed the roof and two altarpieces of the Parochial Church of Saint Mary of Ambrox.
The parishioners ran among the flames without caring about the obvious risk to try to save the image from fire. They manged to rescue it, although with damages – small if one takes into account the magnitude of the fire. As a curious fact, the devotees who participated in the rescue of the image reported that they felt that it almost did not weigh anything, or as if some force was helping them so that they could remove it more easily and quickly.
The flames caused damage to the polychromy of the image, which is why in 1994 the first restoration was necessary, which was somewhat disappointing. Due to this, in 1998 a second restoration was ordered by the Cruz Solis brothers, who performed an impeccable job and until today carry out an exhaustive monitoring of the conservation of the image.
A massive pilgrimage
The festivities in honor of the Holy Christ of Light begin every year on the Saturday before the second Sunday of September, culminating the procession on the third Sunday of September. At approximately 8:30 p.m., the Christ of the Light leaves the temple to begin its procession while accompanied by devout numbers and parishioners who fully live their act of faith. The explosion of rockets is incessant throughout the pilgrimage. Numerous people offend Christ with the burning of firecrackers in their path, while others pay tribute with flower petals.
The party is quite a popular spectacle of lights, gunpowder and “verbenas”, which fills this population of the Poniente of Almeria up with light and splendor. From all corners of Almeria there are devotees, tourists and curious people who are part of the celebration with fireworks, giants and big heads, typical food, games, contests and masses.
The night of that Sunday the sky is illuminated as much by the rockets as by the faith of the thousands of people who pay promise or ask for a miracle to the Christ of the Light. There is a large influx of people, so large that the road from Pampanico to the municipality feels small and seems to overflow.
Since 1998, the Festival in honor of the Holy Christ of Light has been declared as a National Tourist Interest in Andalusia. Devotion to the Holy Christ of Light remains intact in Dalias, and it is the inhabitants of the town who preserve and keep this tradition alive. The festivities that are celebrated in September constitute a true act of civic and religious union, participated both by the locals and by the thousands of visitors that are visit year after year.