On the last Saturday of May, the Canòlich gathering is held, one of the most popular festivals in Sant Julià de Lòria and the most important in the spring in Andorra.
It is a symbol of identity, as it is made in homage to the Virgin of Canolich, patron saint of the city, and can be considered one of the first days of outdoor brotherhood to take place in the Principality. It is, together with the gathering Meritxell Virgin, one of the busiest. In fact, these two pilgrimages begin and close the cycle of gatherings that begin with the good weather in May and end in September.
Since the 18th century, according to the records of Sant Julià de Lòria town hall, the Canòlich gathering has taken place and since then it has been held every year uninterruptedly with a many lot of of public. These characteristics bring to this festival the values of tradition, continuity, vitality and solidarity.
The Sanctuary of Canòlich is located to the west of the city, at an altitude of 1,635 meters, and is surrounded by forests belonging to Bixessarri, the village of Civís, the valley of Sant Joan Fumat and the valley of Fontaneda.
Due to its location, experts say that the Sanctuary is part of the group of so-called high mountain sanctuaries, closely related to livestock and transhumance during the medieval period. The fact that it is located in a place of passage between different populations could also have had the function of refuge for travelers.
In the Pyrenees there are many images found, such as that of the Canòlich Madonna.
and its legend tells us of a coloured bird that indicated the city inhabitants, specifically a shepherd, where she wanted the sanctuary to be built for worship her. According to tradition, it had been hidden and was found on July 14, 1223.
The present church has been built on top of a medieval building, which was modified in the 17th century. The choir dates from 1680.
In 1879 the nave was enlarged and in 1923 the façade was rebuilt. It was renovated between 1973 and 1979, removing the white-painted plastering that covered the entire façade, both outside and inside. The sanctuary preserves an 18th-century Baroque altarpiece and ceramic murals by the artist Sergi Mas.
It is interesting to note that apart from different traditions such as the distribution of holy breads, sardana dances or the interpretation of the joy songs in the mass.
Since the 775th anniversary of the discovery of the Madonna, in 1998, the Esbart Laurèdia, a sociocultural and folkloric entity of the city, has been offering the dance Ball de la Mare de Déu de Canòlich. Since then, it has been performed uninterruptedly, and has become another tradition, strongly rooted in the festivity.