The Mystery of Elx (also called locally The Festivity of Elx) is a theatrical representation that recreates the Death, Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin Mary held in Elx since the Middle Ages. It is one of the few manifestations of the dramatic liturgy that is still made within a church, and has been declared a patrimony of humanity since 2001.
The play is divided into two acts or days, and is staged every 14 and 15 August in the interior of the Basilica of Saint Mary, in the city of La Litana. Recent research places the origin of this play around the second half of the fifteenth century, contrary to the beliefs of local tradition, which relates, on the one hand, to the conquest of the Muslim in 1265 and, On the other, with the discovery of the image of the Virgin Mary, in a wooden box, on December 29, 1370, in the nearby coastal town of Santa Pola.
It is the only play in its genre that has been represented without interruption until today; Surpassing even the impediment that supposed the prohibition to represent theater plays in the interior of the churches on the part of the Council of Trento. It was Pope Urban VIII who granted in 1632, through a pontificate rescripter, the permission to continue with this representation in particular, against the prohibition attempts on the part of the bishop of Orihuela. Each and every one of the characters are represented by men; Trying to respect the liturgical-medieval origin, which expressly prohibited the appearance of women in such representations. The text of the Mystery, except for some verses in Latin, is written entirely in Valencian; And music is a mosaic of styles from different eras that include motifs of the Middle Ages, Baroque and Renaissance.
On May 18, 2001, UNESCO declared Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Some other recognitions to the Mystery are: “National Monument” by the government of the Second Spanish Republic, in 1931; “Holiday of International Tourist Interest” by the Ministry of Information and Tourism, in 1980; The Cross of Sant Jordi of the Generalitat de Catalunya; As well as the Tie of the Order of Alfonso X the Wise person of the Ministry of Education and Science, in 1988; And “Tie of the Order of Isabel la Católica” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 1990, etc.