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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, there are many Marian festivals and commemorative days of a large number of saints. 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'.

Some special churches in Fuerteventura

The bell tower of the parish church of La Oliva, the largest town in the north, is made of black lava rock. A striking feature of the otherwise white Nuestra Señora de Candelaria is its Renaissance portal, its mudéjar ceiling and an 18th-century mural of the Last Judgement.

The Santa María de Antigua, the church of Antigua, was built in three different periods and therefore has different architectural styles. In the mid-16th century, construction of a small chapel began, and it was not until 1785 that the church took on its present form and a bell tower was added.

he fortress-like Iglesia de Santa María of Betancuria dates back to 1620 and contains a 15th-century statue of Virgin Mary brought by Béthancourt, and a wooden Catalina, one of the oldest works of art in Fuerteventura. The church also houses a beautiful altar table and a gilded monstrance from the 16th century. The roof was made in 1645 by Juan Gómez. The church has three naves in mudéjar style (with wooden ceiling), which is typical of Fuerteventura.

In 1424, the church was chosen by Pope Martin IV as the first Canary Cathedral. The church was largely destroyed in 1593 and rebuilt in the 17th century.

It was a mystery for a long time why the 17th century Nuestra Señora de la Regla of Pájara was decorated with Aztec ornaments and why it was named after the patron saint of Havana, Cuba. On the main façade there are pumas, snakes and suns chiselled in stone.

It now appears that the stonemason took the motifs from an Italian example book!


Evers, K. / Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote

Gawin, I. / Fuerteventura
Zuidnederlandse Uitgeverij

Grimm, P. / Lanzarote & Fuerteventura

Lipps, S. / Fuerteventura

Schütte, H. / Fuerteventura
Van Reemst

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated March 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info