The Spanish take religious occasions extremely seriously and none more so than the Procession of the Blessed in celebration of the beautification of Saint Catalina Tomas. Known locally as Colcada de la Beata, the Procession of the Blessed is one of Mallorca’s biggest and most popular annual events. The festival always takes place on the third weekend of October.
If being on Mallorca in October, with the gentle breezes from the Mediterranean cooling the island down from months of relentless heat, and the flocks of hedonistic youngsters arriving at Palma airport during high summer, in search of sun, sangria and all-night parties gradually fading wasn’t fulfilling enough, then attending the Colcada de la Beata and engulfing yourself with some religious zeal will certainly satisfy any yearnings for a touch of Spanish tradition.
This particularly vibrant and pulsating occasion takes place on the third Saturday in October and includes an important sermon held in the Santa Magdalena Church in Palma. The sermon is followed by a colourful parade, in which the young, old and middle-aged join in with a shared enthusiasm that is lifted into the atmosphere along with the music, aromas and tastes, as bands, bonfires, fireworks and feasts merrily fill the streets of Palma.
Saint Catalina Tomas was born in 1531 in the town of Valldemossa in the northwest of Mallorca. She died at the Santa Magdalena Covent in Palma in 1574. Also known as Saint Catherine Tomas, Catalina Tomas is the Patron Saint of Valldemossa. But it was where the Patron Saint passed away that is the focal point of the Procession of the Blessed.
In typical Spanish fashion, the festival goes on into the night and early morning and it is not until after dusk when the procession of floats leaves the Santa Magdalena Church and makes its way down Palma’s many charming and interesting avenues. Rarely hindered by the onset of late night fatigue the fiesta finally finishes with folk dancing and a feast in the open air at Placa de sa Feixina.
Mallorca’s reputation for being an island of excess and pleasure-seeking is certainly lived up to on the third Saturday of October each year, but in the most sacred, inspirational and spirited way possible.