Religion in Sevilla

Jenia Cunningham is a student at Mount Mary University. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Seville, Spain.

One of my favorite parts of living in Spain is being able to see so many gorgeous cathedrals and parishes adorned with such intricate and beautiful designs, representations of the virgins and the saints, and monstrances. Through ISA, I have the opportunity to visit some of the most jaw dropping, awe-inspiring cathedrals and palaces. My ultimate favorites are the Mezquita in Córdoba, the Catedral Primada in Toledo, and the Alcázar in Sevilla.

‘the Mezquita’ This is a peek of the Mezquita through a narrow street in Córdoba


‘The Toledo Catedral’ This is the magnificent Cathedral in Toledo.

Today, these cathedrals are magnificent monuments presenting the splendor of historical rulers who left behind a legacy of their accomplishments, as well as very important anthropological insight. Evidently, these structures, in all of their extravagance and grandeur were birthed in religion. In true Andalusian style, they present the aesthetic influence of different peoples, demonstrating the possibility of cohesion and unity in diversity. Juxtaposed against all these amazing cathedrals and religious monuments are many Spanish locals who do not actually practice their declared faith. 

‘Catedral de Sevilla with orange tree’ A sneak peek at the Cathedral in Sevilla amidst the beautiful orange tree.

My class in Spanish civilization and culture this semester complements my observations about religion here. In fact, I learned that although more than half the population identify as Catholic, 62% of those hardly ever go to mass. The remaining quarter of the Spanish population are either agnostic or atheist. However, everybody, celebrates religious events throughout the year, despite their individual religious identity.

During March, everyone seemed to be looking forward to Semana Santa or Holy Week. Here in Sevilla, the streets became flooded with people from near and far who want to see the procession of the Virgins and the different representations of Jesus. During Semana Santa, there are also special foods, which I assume is another reason why the locals enjoy it so much. One of these special Semana Santa dishes is called Torrijas. We were able to make them in my Tapas cooking class. I can confirm that they are absolutely delightful. I’m going to make Torrijas for the rest of my life! But before I become more distracted, this excitement shows that there’s so much that goes into this week-long event.

‘Las Torrijas with lemon’ This was our attempt at making the famous delicacy of Semana Santa.

In addition to Semana Santa, there are other big, religious events such as Las Romerías and Corpus Christi. From what I’ve learned, these events are deeply based in religion. However, many Spanish people enjoy them from a cultural and artistic perspective. They treasure the tradition and believe in its historical value, but tradition does not necessarily hold religious or spiritual significance.

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