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Hermitages and churches

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Ermita de Sant Antoni

The Chapel of Sant Antoni Abat (or “del Porquet”) is located approximately one kilometre east of the town of Pego, in the agricultural area of Benisuleima, surrounded by agricultural fields. One can reach it by following the Sant Antoni road, a rural road that starts from the CV-715 road at the edge of the urban area. Around it, there is an area with an esplanade and a wooded area with benches and tables.

Like other chapels in Pego, the one dedicated to Sant Antoni was built on what was once a place occupied by Moors with the purpose of evangelisation and to serve as a place of worship for the recently converted Muslim population. In this case, it was the Islamic hamlet of Benisuleima or Beniçuleima, which was created on top of a Roman villa dating back to the early centuries of the Common Era.

The chapel was founded in the 16th century during the reign of Felip II and remained municipal property until 1921. Since the municipality couldn't afford the cost of its restoration and maintenance, the patronage was transferred to an inhabitant called Joaquín Sendra Siscar, in exchange for his commitment to rehabilitate and maintain it in perfect condition. Since then, it has continued under private patronage, and its current state of preservation is excellent.

Sitting on a slightly elevated platform, the chapel is a building of a venerable appearance. Its masonry construction is visible, with chains of ashlar blocks and bricks at the corners and openings, buttresses, and a roof of clay tiles with two slopes. On the right side, there is the hermit's dwelling, preceded by a porch or atrium with a pointed arch flanked by cypress trees and a ceramic altarpiece with an image of the patron saint. These two annexes were added later to the original temple construction. At the head, the small body of the sacristy rises, lower and with an independent roof. The empty bell gable rises above the ridge of the roof, at the height of the chapel.

After passing through the porch, one enters the hermitage itself through the entrance door, also with a pointed arch and with a window on the right. The single nave is divided into two sections by a pointed arch that starts from the ground, all whitewashed like the rest of the walls. The presbytery is elevated on a platform, and after the stone-free altar, on the straight wall of the header there is a neoclassical altarpiece with a large central niche flanked by columns that houses the classic image of Sant Antoni with his inseparable piglet. On either side, there are niches with statues of La Immaculada and Sant Josep amb El Xiquet, and on the left there is an access to the sacristy.

In the past, there was an old painted altarpiece depicting the patron saint and Sant Roc, possibly dating from the 17th century, which is now possessed by the owners of the hermitage and currently found in the parish church.

A pilgrimage to the chapel is celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 17th, the feast day of the saint. Pilgrims depart at ten in the morning from Pla de La Font, accompanying the image of the saint, and a mass is held in the hermitage, followed by the traditional blessing of the animals. It is also customary to walk three complete laps around the temple because it is believed to prevent stomach ailments. Around the building, there is a lively fair with artisanal products, and blessed Sant Antoni's bunyols [fritters] are distributed.

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