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Christianity was established in the Canary Islands with the arrival of the Spaniards. Fathers of various monastic orders founded monasteries and chapels and Christianised the native population of the Canary Islands.

The Canarians are almost 100% Catholic and have built many churches in honour of the Virgin Mary. In addition to the regular national church holidays, many feasts of Mary and commemorative days of a large number of saints are celebrated exuberantly. During pilgrimages ('romerias'), images of Mary, Jesus or other saints are carried along.

The patron saint of the Canary Islands is Candlemas or 'Virgen de la Candelaria'.

Remarkable church buildings


The Iglesia Santa Maria de la Concepción is a fortified church built in 1767 on the site of an earlier 16th century chapel. The church has three naves and above the central portal rises a small bell tower enclosed by a wooden balcony. The large bell in the bell tower was brought from Paris in 1886.

On the spire of the tower there is a large statue of Madonna. The ceiling is made in the mujédar style and is supported by Tuscan columns.


The Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria is a 17th-century church and lies at the foot of a volcano. Its striking features are the wooden ceiling and the gilded altar.

Ermita Nuestra Señora de la Virgen de los Reyes (Our Lady of the Kings) is a white walled pilgrimage chapel, containing a statue of the patron saint of El Hierro.

Once every four years the great 'Bajada de la Virgen', a procession in which the statue is carried in a sedan chair to Valverde, begins at the ermita. Inside the chapel the Madonna stands on a silver stretcher.


Evers, K. / Canarische Eilanden : Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote

Leibl, M. / Gomera & Hierro
Van Reemst

Lipps, S. / Wandelgids La Gomera en El Hierro

Murphy, P. / Canarische Eilanden

Renouf, N. / Canarische Eilanden

Rochford, N. / Wegwijzer voor La Palma en El Hierro : een landschapsgids
Sunflower Books

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info