This article, which will be published in two consecutive posts, is a compilation of several short articles published during 2014, in an event hosted on my website that celebrated a month of devotions to Our Lady. Edited and revised for this blog, it presents four of the more important Advocations of Mary worshipped in our island: Our Lady Of Candelaria, Our Lady Of Coromoto, Our Lady Of The Valley and Our Lady Of El Cobre. These advocations have been chosen not only for their relevancy in our Curanderismo tradition, but also for their connection to Latin America and the religions of the African Diaspora.
Our Lady Of Candelaria
Our Lady Of Candelaria is the patroness of Tenerife and of the whole Canary Islands. Before the Spanish invasion, she was worshipped as Goddess Chaxiraxi by the Guanches; she was called “Mother Of The Sun”, “Lady/Queen Of The World”, “She Who Holds The Firmament”, and “Princess Of Great Kindness”. Chaxiraxi means “The One Who Carries The Owner Of The World” – the owner of the world being her son, Chijoraji, the infant God.
It is believed that the original statue was found around the year 1400 (almost 100 years before the spanish conquest) by two Guanche shepherds in a ravine in the area that is now the town of Güimar. The shepherds were trying to put their goat herds inside the cave where they slept, but the goats started behaving crazily and didn’t want to enter the cave; when they approached the cave’s entrance to find out what was happening, they saw the image of the Virgin standing above it. At first, they thought it was a living woman; one of the shepherds tried to throw a stone at her to make her move, but his arm was paralyzed; the other, scared, tried to stab her, but ended up stabbing himself. When they finally reached the statue, their wounds and paralyzed limbs healed.
Note – the picture depicts a reproduction of the original statue found by the Guanches, not the original one. There are no images of the statue found by the Guanches.
For a long time, the statue, which most likely was brought to the shore after a pirate shipwreck (with a little help from Chaxiraxi, I’m sure!), was worshipped at the cave of Saint Blaise, while the first church of Our Lady was built in a very near location. That original statue, and the original church, are now lost – both were destroyed during a flood in 1826. The great sculptor Fernando Estevez was hired to make the image of Chaxiraxi that you can see on the top of this post, which was restored in 1972 by Ezequiel De León. This statue resides now in the Basilica Of Candelaria, a cathedral dedicated to her worship; every year, on February 2 and specially on August 15, thousands of Canarians visit her and worship her with pilgrimages to the Basilica.
A very special note is deserved for the church of Our Lady in Caracas, Venezuela – for all those who are interested in the Canarian-Venezuelan connection in our work and spirituality :). In the county of Mérida, also in Venezuela, she was worshipped as the protector of Black slaves, after manifesting herself to a little black girl; slaves were not allowed in the local church, so the worship of Our Lady in Merida started as a hidden cult after Her apparition. You can see the main altar of the church in the pic below.
Part 2 Coming Soon!
Note – I do not own the copyright of any of these images, except for the images of the Basilica and Saint Blaise’s Cave. They are shown for educational purpose only, and no copyright infringement is intended.
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