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The Venerable Congregation of Our Lady of Sorrows is a religious Order. It is a Third Order (a Laymen's Order) whose origins date back to the year 1233 when seven friends in Florence (Italy), in the midst of the chaos produced by struggles and rivalries of the time, decided to dedicate their lives to something more worthwhile than killing each other and adopted the evangelical values of fraternity, charity to one's fellow man, prayer, communion and peace, honoring in this way Mary as the Queen of Peace. These friends, who came from illustrious and distinguished families, decided to withdraw themselves to Mount Senario just outside Florence. In the convent they founded there on Mount Senario, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared before them on Good Friday, entrusting them with the mission of prayer and charitable acts, and this is the origin of the Order of the Servants of Mary or Servites.  In Besalú, my hometown and place of birth, the Order of the Servants of Mary was established on August 28 in 1699, the festival of Saint Augustine, with the founding of the Venerable Congregation of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Venerable Congregation of Our Lady of Sorrows of Besalú, with more than 300 years of history, is and has been the binding basis of many people's spirituality.  The Congregation of Besalú, which is considered to be one of the oldest and most charismatic Congregations active in Catalonia, is the depository of organizing, year after year, the Festival of Sorrows, in Besalú, an impressive manifestation of popular religiosity which is palpable in every act throughout the day, from the first mass at dawn up to the most culminating point: the solemn Procession of Sorrows which begins well after nightfall... where tradition and spirituality join hands and walk side by side.  This weighty baggage, together with everything the Venerable Congregation has signified and signifies for the ancient capital of the County and its nearby towns, has prompted the Government of Catalonia to grant it the "Creu de Sant Jordi 2005" award, for its historical and spiritual protagonism, as well as for the outstanding singularities of this Festival within the Catalan calendar of Lent-related events, and also for the integrating task of bringing all the Besalú townspeople together.  Like most of my childhood friends, from a very early age my grandparents and parents instilled in me a sense of devotion towards Our Lady of Sorrows, which has accompanied me in my walk through life, and that's why, here in my weblog, I'd like to share it with all of you, hoping it may be of help to you...as it has been to me.

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