Our Lady of Candelaria patron saint of the Canary Islands

Candelmas on February 2 is the end of the Christmas – Epiphany season.

In some regions it is also the Fiesta de la Candelaria which venerates the Our Lady of Candelaria.


The Catholic Candelmas is the 40th day of the Christmas – Epiphany season. It celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. It may have evolved from the ancient Roman spring purification festival of Lupercalia.

In some parts of the Latin world, Candelmas is when we take down our Christmas decorations.

In France, we celebrate Candelmas by eating crêpes.

La Fiesta de la Candelaria

Our Lady of Candelaria is a Black Madonna (La Morenita) who is the patron saint of the Canary Islands. She is also venerated in the central Philippines, Jacaltenango, Guatemala; Mexico; Puno, Peru; and Puerto Rico.

The Canaries were the main stop for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas during the colonial period. They carried Canary Island traditions to the New World and as far as the Philippines. Many Puerto Ricans have a Canary Island heritage.

The Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno, Peru is one of the big Native American festivals in South America.

The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna makes perfect sense in regions with a Moorish or African influence, but there are Black Madonnas all over Europe too.

For those of us who are racially mixed, the Black Madonnas provide a way for us to connect with the divinity in ourselves. Whatever she means, she is a beautiful way to relate to the religion.

She Really Looks Like This

From the outside looking in, Marion figures look like spooky dolls in overly fancy, rather Baroque dresses. The whole Marion apparition thing seems silly until you see her with your own eyes.

Working this morning, I remembered that I have seen this image before, not the photograph, but the figure. She once appeared on a rock face behind our house, and the entire family saw her. She was there for a few days and then was gone.

I wasn’t raised in this tradition, and had no preconceptions of it. But lo and behold, she appeared like a queen with a crown in a Spanish headdress and gown. She was very clear.

I know it sounds crazy, but I cannot deny what I have seen while completely in my senses, and what others have seen as well. Honestly, I was very surprised. What can you say, but “Dios te salve, Maria…”

Keith, February 1, 2018


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