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Discovery of the Virgin of Candelaria

Ceremony of the Discovery of the Virgin of Candelaria. Image: Candelaria Town Hall

August 15th, Assumption, is celebrated in the town of Candelaria where the patron of the Canary Islands, Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (The Virgin of Candelaria or Our Lady of Candelaria) resides in her Basilica of Candelaria

Many thousands make a pilgrimage to the basilica each year - the town usually expects around 200,000 visitors on August 14th and 15th, principle days of the celebrations - and the actual veneration takes the form of processions and floral offerings (Romería y Ofrenda Floral - Virgen de Candelaria), but the most popular part of the annual celebrations is the re-enactment or ceremony of the discovery of the figure, which takes place in the Plaza outside the Basilica on 14th August from around 7:30pmThis more than 200 year old re-enactment ceremony is very popular, so be advised to expect total bedlam.

The invocation of the Virgen de la Candelaria or Our Lady of Candelaria had its origin in Tenerife. According to tradition - a legend recorded by Alonso de Espinosa in 1594 - the Virgin appeared, bearing a child in one hand and a candle in the other (hence "Candelaria") on the beach of Chimisay (Güímar), in 1392, long before the Castilian conquest of the island, to two Guanche goatherds. 

When they reached the mouth of a cave, their herd did not advance. One of the shepherds came forward to see what was happening and saw a small wooden image of a woman, about a meter high[1]. It is said that one of the men tried to throw a stone at the statue, but his arm became paralyzed; the other tried to stab the statue with a knife but ended up stabbing himself. The statue was taken by the local Guanche Mencey, Acaymo, to the cave of Chinguaro

Later, this devotion spread and is now celebrated in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay & Venezuela. 

[1] It has long been speculated that what the herdsmen actually found was the figurehead of a ship that had washed ashore, but the original has long since been lost - stories include it being washed out to sea in a flood - so it conveniently cannot be verified. We’ll probably never know if this Madonna was washed up on the beach in Tenerife by the hand of God or by conniving Spaniards.

Tenerife Land of Eternal Christmas

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