As the entry to Nueva Street, we find this monumental arch devoted to Jesus the Penitent. The structure is finished by a vaulted niche where the painting of the worshipped image is lodged, plus six lanterns and a projecting balcony. The original construction is from 1671 although it was demolished in 1959 because the risk of falling; it was re-inaugurated in 1963. The reconstruction was carried out by the Architect Francisco Pons-Sorolla y Arnau, grandson of the painter Joaquín Sorolla.
A popular legend goes with this peculiar construction. The story was gathered by the Antequera poet, Victorina Sáenz de Tejada, in a romance named “El Nazareno de la calle Nueva” (The Penitent of New Street).
There was in town a gentleman called Luis de Zayas who was known for the wild life he had when he was young, although he changed his ways when he got married. One morning, he visited the Encarnacion Church where he was captivated by a young girl who was taking holy orders. Since then, he could not think about anything else but to win the novice’s heart.
A few months later, once the girl had already fallen at his feet, during a stormy night he leapt into the garden where he expected to find his lover. As he did not find her there, he ventured into the convent and found her sleeping in her cell. He woke her up and both went down to the corridor where the repentant girl knelt down before a painting of the Virgin Mary. The gentleman left the young girl there and run out to the street. When he arrived to the entry of the Nueva Street, he fainted.
At dawn, some people found him and took him to his home where he confessed to his wife and told her that, when reaching the street corner, he had seen the image of Jesus holding the Cross. To show his remorse, he wished to do penance by founding an arch over which there would be the image of Jesus the Penitent always lit by a six lanterns.