Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A short trip to Candelaria

When I went to Tenerife I had the intention of doing some little walk to Candelaria and spend a day there, I wanted to visit the basilica and relax in the new beach that has been built near the town centre. However, the weather was so hot that I stayed at home most days and finally I just went to Candelaria on my last evening in Tenerife. I didn't stay too long, just enough to visit the basilica and take some photos around, missing the chance to try out this new beach, which looked really beautiful, at leaat from the distance!

Candelaria is a very popular town in Tenerife and not only as a sea resort or dormitory town near the sea. Candelaria is home to the patron of Tenerife and the Canary Islands, the Virgin of Candelaria. Every year thousands of pilgrims walk from all over the island on 14 and 15 August to celebrate the festivity of the virgin. Nowadays, the image of the Virgin of Candelaria is inside the newly-built basilica on the main square of the town. The basilica and the square lie besides the sea and the promenade along the sea is ornated with the statues of the last nine menceys of Tenerife (mencey was the aborigin name given to the kings of Tenerife and by the time Spaniards conquered the Tenerife it was divided in nine kingdoms).

This time I did a bit of research on the history of the town and of the Virgin of Candelaria. All I knew so far was that some time ago, some inhabitants had glimpsed the image of a dark lady and believed her to be the Virgin Mary. Now, this is what I found out: in 1390 some guanches (the aborigin inhabitants of Tenerife) found a wooden image of the Virgin Mary floating on the sea. The guanches, who weren't christians, didn't have a clue about the meaning of such image but they found it so precious that they started to worship it straight away, placing her in a cave near the sea. A hundred years later, Spaniards came to Tenerife and as they carried out the process of christianisation of the conquered people they explained them that this was the image of the Virgin Mary. Later a small basilica was built and this dark image of the virgin was declared as the patron of the canary Islands, the Virgin of Candelaria. While the story is rather romantic, there are some details which left me puzzled. I really wonder if the guanches, who were totally oblivious of christian beliefs, actually did worship that image. Still, I can buy in that part of the story but the most disturbing fact is the accuracy of the date. How can someone be so sure that the guanches found that image exactly on 1390 (or 1392, as I read somewhere else) when the guanche people had no meassure of time at all ... maybe I'm just thinking too much, as usual! Any thoughts on it?


  1. Cool photo of the waves crashing on the sea walls - did you that? Beautiful! x

    1. Thanks!
      Yes I took the photo last week while on holidays - I'm still learning my way through photography and I don't have a great camera, but being patient enough for the waves to crash pays off :)


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