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Capella de l'Ecce-Homo

The Chapel of Ecce Homo, an architectural symbol of Pego, is located in the heart of the urban centre. The site of this temple was once occupied by the ancient mediaeval hospital, and the chapel within it housed the image of Ecce Homo, a figure of deep devotion, documented as early as 1667. This chapel serves as the headquarters of the Confraternity of La Puríssima Sang which later took the name of Confraria del Santíssim Ecce Homo [the Most Holy Ecce Homo].

In 1757, the hospital building was demolished, and construction began so as to venerate the images it housed. Under the direction of the renowned architect Francisco Cabezas of the Franciscan order, the foundation stone was laid on November 1st, 1759, which was financed by contributions from the local residents. The chapel of Ecce Homo was blessed on December 29th, 1776, and the image was transferred there. However, decoration work continued for another decade.

One of the most significant renovations and rehabilitations occurred during the mid-19th century when the bell tower and sacristy were added. Severely damaged during the Spanish Civil War, it was restored following a program that extended until 1956.

The building has a solid and robust appearance, constructed with exposed masonry and covered with tiles. The splendid dome rises from the roof with an octagonal drum and a triangular bell tower that barely surpasses it in height. This bell tower is situated on the left side and its somewhat unorthodox appearance suggests that another twin tower may have been initially planned but was never constructed. The bell, installed in 1944, was a gift from the Civil Governor of the province at that time.

The elegant stone façade frames the rectangular doorway between pilasters and an entablature adorned with vases, inscribed with "A 1 DE NOVE. DE 1759" and "Restaurada en el año 1956". Above the doorway, there is a niche with a semi-circular arch containing a stone image of Ecce Homo.

Upon entering beyond a vestibule, the interior features an octagonal floor plan with shallow chapels on the sides, except at the entrance and in the chamber, where chapels house the various processional figures used during Holy Week. Above, there are balconies with iron railings that form a kind of ambulatory on the upper level. The decoration is sumptuous and solemn, with an abundance of gilding, rococo ornamentation, and allegorical representations of the Passion. Rising to a height of 21.5 metres above the centrally-planned structure is the dome, measuring 12 metres in diameter. The lunettes of the dome are adorned with medallions framing contemporary paintings depicting the construction of the temple.

The main altar houses the image of Ecce Homo, a highly meritorious sculpture of unknown authorship from the 16th-17th centuries. At its base, in a niche, there is a reliquary that supposedly contains a fragment of the Holy Cross, according to tradition. The rest of the imagery dates from after 1940, since the valuable movable assets previously housed here were lost during the Spanish Civil War.

There is a tradition that claims that the image of Ecce Homo was carved by two angels who appeared as pilgrims at the hospital and miraculously deposited it there.

The town's patronal festivals, which include the famous Moors and Christians celebrations, take place at the end of June. In the religious context, the grandest day is the Wednesday following the last Sunday of that month, dedicated to honouring Ecce Homo. On the eve, the image is transferred to the parish church and displayed for veneration by the people of Pego, while the next day features a solemn Mass and a procession through the town's streets, returning the image to its chapel and culminating in a fireworks display. These festivities date back at least to the 18th century and are related to the traditional celebrations of the Blood of Christ.

During Holy Week, this chapel is an important centre of devotion, as it is the starting point for the confraternities participating in the region's oldest processions.

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