Coinciding with the festival of Candlemas, a uniquely magical phenomenon occurs at La Seu cathedral in Mallorca: a Festival of Light, popularly known as the “vuit de la Seu”, which attracts a multitude of visitors.
Every time, more and more people come to Mallorca’s Cathedral from all over the island, to witness the marvellous spectacle of light that illuminates the interior of the cathedral on just two days per year. This festival of light takes place on the 11th of November, the day of Saint Martin, and on the 2nd of February when we celebrate Candlemas. This is a breathtaking coincidence that never fails to impress, and you should really try and see it if you happen to be on the island on either of these dates.
Bear in mind though, that you’ll have to get up very early so you don’t miss it. This phenomenon takes place first thing in the morning, with the first of the sun’s rays. At exactly 8:30 in the morning, the sun penetrates the large rose window above the altar, projecting an explosion of colour onto the interior wall which is produced by the 1.115 pieces of glass that make up the rose window. This chromatic display is unique, as only La Seu in Mallorca meets the conditions of location, orientation, and construction for it to take place.
Thousands of people gather to witness this incredibly magical spectacle formed when light passes through the rosette on the main façade to be reflected on the interior wall, below the second rosette, forming a perfect “vuit” (eight, in Catalan). Such is its charm and uniqueness, that it has become a major media event, broadcast by television channels all over the world, and eagerly awaited by the public. Its popularity is equal to that of the traditional singing of the Sibil-la on Christmas Eve.
This spectacle, which has a great impact internationally, is surrounded by mystery and magic, with much speculation as to the significance of the number “eight” and the symbolic orientation of the Cathedral itself.
La Seu de Mallorca is keen to recover a historic, cultural tradition originating in Greece and Rome, which was Christianised by Pope Gelasius in the year 496. Christians celebrate Candlemas 40 days after Christmas, it commemorates Jesus’s presentation at the temple in Jerusalem, and the purification of his mother, Mary. This ritual, associated with Jewish culture, centres around the offering and blessing of wax candles. The English-speaking Christian liturgy dedicated to Candlemas has identified this commemoration as the Feast of the Holy Encounter.