Candelaria on the coast is the home of the sea gods which guard the Island of Tenerife. Candelaria or "Villa Mariana de Candelaria" is a municipality and city in the southeast part of the island of Tenerife in the Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, Spain. The town of Candelaria is surrounded by several prehistoric caves, where burials have been found containing mummies of the Guanches, whose burial process is very similar to the treatment of the pharaohs in Egypt.In 1390, the current Candelaria was a solitary and deserted place where the shepherds would frenguent the Guanches of Güimar's menceyato (Güímar's pre-Hispanic kingdom). One evening, two natives who were leading his cattle, saw some goats come to the mouth of the ravine. The natives found, on a rock, the Holy Image of the Virgin of Candelaria (declared principal patron saint of the Canary Islands with posteriority).
The image was found in a beach near to Candelaria, initially the image was moved to Cueva de Chinguaro, which was the palace of the King of Güímar.
But later, the same guanches moved her to Cueva de Achbinico in Candelaria, and there it has been venerated since then. At first the aboriginals identified her with the appearance of their goddess Chaxiraxi (the mother of the gods), but later the Christian conquerors explained that the image was the Virgin Mary. Later a hermitage was constructed and later the Basilica was constructed to Santa Maria.
Nowadays Candelaria is the principal Catholic center of pilgrimage of the Canaries and one of the principal ones of Spain.
The current image of the Virgin of Candelaria is to dress. The image always turns out to be covered by mantles and jeweler's shop, also she is curiously very venerated by the Hindu community of the Canaries, they refer to her as the black virgin. The image goes out in procession every February 2 (day of Candelaria) and August 15 (day of the Patron of Canaries). The latter date is linked to a former aboriginal celebration (Beñesmen, the crop). It is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared on these dates.
Nowadays, the municipality is visited by thousands of people, not only devout to the Virgin of Candelaria, but tourists exploring the Canary culture.
Basilica of CandelariaThe current basilica dates back of 1959, it was constructed on a former hermitage. When you leave the basilica you stand out on the belfry coast, to your feet one finds the Plaza de la Patrona de Canarias. Since the image of the Virgin was appearing on the beach of Chimisay, around 1392, the first great Sanctuary to the Virgin of Candelaria was constructed in 1668. Later with the increase of the peregrinations of the devout ones, there was created the need to construct a bigger temple (the current basilica), which has capacity for 5,000 persons.
The basilica is in the south part of the city, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. Close to the Plaza de la Patrona de Canarias they find the bronze statues of 9 aboriginal kings. Next to the basilica is the Dominican convent religious order in charge of the sanctuary. The basilic also has a large collection of wall paintings. The temple and Royal Basilica Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Candelaria, is considered the main temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Canary Islands.
Cueva de AchbinicoAlso so called Cave of San Blas, it was the first Christian temple of Canary Islands, in this place the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands produced worship to the Virgin of Candelaria. According to recent archaeological layers of ash found and submitted for consideration are carbon-14 dating back over three thousand years. In this cave a fire was kept on permanently, something like the temple of the Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome.
Our Lady of Candelaria is the Patron of Tenerife
The Black Virgin of Candelaria has become an object of religious devotion for many thousands of people and pilgrimages are made to worship her. The main time for this takes place every 14-15 August in what is known as the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria.
There is a branch of Santeria active on Tenerife as well and the Black Virgin has been adopted as a saint for followers of this religion too. Santeria has its origins in West Africa and the Carribbean.
The story goes that originally, over a century before the Spanish conquest, some Guanche shepherds came upon the statue of the Black Madonna on a beach and she was taken to a cave that was the stronghold of the local mencey (prince). She became known as Chaxiraxi and was worshipped by the Guanches who belived she had miraculous powers. There are variations on this story in the island's folklore.
The current statue in the basilica dates from around 1830 and is not the original one. It is said that someone from the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura stole the first statue but later replaced it. Also it is told that either the original or its replacement was damaged by fire in 1789 and again replaced or repaired.
That statue of the Black Madonna was washed out to sea in a storm in 1826 but replaced in 1830 by the present version.
The origins of the Black Madonnas
Whatever the truth is of the matter, she is venerated throughout the islands and in many ways marries the pagan past with the imposed Catholicism that the Spanish brought with their conquest.
In Candelaria, which is on the eastern coast of Tenerife, there are statues of the nine Guanche menceyes on the seawall that stands overlooking the main square right next to the basilica. Many visitors to Candelaria like to get photos of the menceyes, the basilica and the Black Virgin inside.
On the other side of the island in the mountain town of Santiago del Teide stands a church with yet another Black Madonna. It is a very beautiful church in a very beautiful location, surrounded by mountains and valleys.
In Tenerife a very commonly found medicinal herb that grows wild is the Milk Thistle or Cardo de Maria (Mary's Thistle) in Spanish (Silybum marianum). The Virgin Mary, as the Black Madonna known as Our Lady of Candelaria, is the Patron Saint of the island so it seems very apt that this flower grows so well there.
As religious icons Black Madonnas are certainly mysterious but it is just as much a mystery to me as to why nobody finds it odd that the baby Jesus is portrayed as black when in his mother's arms, but on statues and in paintings as a grown up man he has become white! Anything is possible with faith!
We had a lovely walk along the sea front visiting the Sea Gods and Explorering the Church with the Black Madonna. To finish our visited we had an ice cream each home made within the village.
http://www.ctspanish.com/communities/canary/canary.htm more info on the Canary Islands
Below is a google book link for information on the sea gods
info on Tenerife ( this has to be my favourite Island )