Adeje, past, present, and future?

Thanks to the Adeje archives we have many references to the Fiestas Lustrales in the past



In the south of Tenerife three images/statues appeared over time which are revered from the time of the Spanish Conquest: the Virgin of Candelaria along the Chimisay coast, the Virgin of Abona along the Arico coast and the Virgin of the Incarnation who appeared at the Enramada beach.

Fray Alonso de Espinosa, in his book “Del origen y milagros de la Santa Imagen de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (1594)”, (The origin and miracles of Our Lady of Candelaria) recounts the appearance of the Virgin in La Enramada. This primitive statue was taken to Garachico and placed under the advocacy of Our Lady of the Light.

Many years following the conquest, a number of fishermen from La Orotava went fishing in the waters of La Gomera in boats belonging to Gonzalo Bueno, from the region, when they arrived to a small bay in Adeje where they found a statue of Our Lady “of Mazoneria” with a child in her arms; happy with their discovery they placed her in the boat with the intention of returning to their town and placing the statute in their church. But God had other ideas, and despite the calm seas, upon arrival at Garachico there was so much wind that they were forced to enter port there.”

According to the book, the people of Adeje, who cried at the loss of their statue, found this other stature of Our Lady which the town adopted and which was first revered in the Humilladero cave and afterward in the Hermitage built beside the sea and placed under her protection. However, given the pirate raids along the coast, Pedro de Ponto brought the statute to the Church of Santa Úrsula in the town.

This ancestral devotion, which has been observed since the first years of the Spanish Conquest, underlines the important part the Virgin of the Incarnation has played in the spreading of the gospel in this part of the island, and for that reason she is called the Virgin, Evangelist for the Christian Faith in the Conquest of the Island.


In the historical papers kept in the Fort we have come across a relevant document which confirms the existence of this Lustral Rogation (five-yearly religious ceremony) in the XVIII century. The document in question is from 1782, signed by the Fort General Administrator, Francisco del Castillo Santelices, and tells of the celebration of the Lustral Rogation that year, following a drought that had devastated the town . The text (translated) reads:

Miraculous Rain, thanks to the intervention of Holy Mary of the Incarnation

This parish has an agreed obligation to bring the Lady of the Incarnation, every five years, to the place of her old dwelling, San Sebastián. This assumes, determined by the parish with the agreement of the venerable parish priest, Agustín de Salazar, a novena to pray for mercy and her intervention with her holy son to help us and bring us the water which the fields badly need. We ask for her mercy and blessing and that of her blessed son on the cross.

It is determined that on one of these days Our Lady was brought to the sea fulfilling the promise. She left her blessed home on the third Sunday at 9 in the morning and I can assure that, given 24 years experience living in this parish and knowledge of what precedes rain here, there wasn’t the slightest hint of water, with no rain in this parish in the lower nor upper areas. But when we arrived at the place called ‘el Calvario’ we saw undoubted signs of water, strong currents of water, We walked with Our Lady and prayed the holy rosary and when we arrived to her old home there was such an abundance of water that all those who accompanied us were wet through as if they had bathed in a river. Our Lady wasn’t wet as she had been protected with a cover and other robes. Then the people cried out as if they were crazy yelling news of the miracle. Our Lord was praised by all and all of his holy works.

We arrived to the hermitage in San Sebastian where another mass was sung. The priest was full of spirit and called all to reconcile with Holy Mary and her precious son, and make our thanks obvious.

This Lord helps us and allows us reap the benefits and we are blessed with his holy and precious mother in the statue of the Incarnation and we are sorry for our sins.

Adeje 4 of February 1782

Fancisco del Castillo Santeilces

This document confirms our belief that the Lustral celebrations were taking place in the XVIII century.


Another title which the Virgin of the Incarnation holds is that of Perpetual and Honorary Mayoress of Adeje. The first time this title was awarded was in 1961 given by the mayor, Juan Manuel Bello Ledesma, in an extraordinary session of the council held on July 18 1961.

In 1994 in a democratic meeting of the Council session, the mayor José Miguel Rodriguez Fraga ratified this title of Perpetual Honorary Mayoress, coinciding with the Canonical Coronation of the Virgin of the Incarnation.

The 1 official Lustral Visit of the Virgin of the Incarnation to all parts of the borough was held in 2005, with its roots in a decree issued by Bishop Felipe Fernández García. But we also remember past events such as the Lustral celebration of 1782, and the 1994 events also marked the 300 anniversary of the Patron’s celebrations and in 2001, the Bimillennium of the Incarnation and birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This year, in 2015, we are celebrating the III Lustral Visit of the Virgin of the Incarnation, confirming our faith, our traditions, and our devotion to the Virgin of the Incarnation, the light that guides us. In the words of a local popular phrase (translated), “There is no light like the light of day, there is no mother like Mary”.


Devotees, goat’s milk and bouquets of flowers

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Once again the Adeje councillor for heritage, Juan Desiderio Afonso Ruiz has found a gem in the Adeje archives regarding the celebration of the feast day of the town’s co-founder, San Sebastián.

According to a newspaper article in the ‘Gaceta de Tenerife’ a “catholic daily information newspaper” the people of Adeje were just as eager to celebrate the Feast day of San Sebastián in 1916 as today. The piece, published on January 29th of that year, details how the population of this town, “once the secular court of the aborigine kings of Tenerife, celebrated the fiesta…with extraordinary solemnity”. It details how, from 8.30 on the morning of January 20th, people began to gather as the bells tolled, “from every street corner and all the paths that led to the town, walking in procession behind the new statue of San Sebastián, a work credited to a sculpture studio, Valenciana de Bririllo”. The author also wrote of the “intense faith” displayed by many of the participants, with promises to complete a named journey on their knees, gifts of money or candles lit, and one farmer who “said he would give anyone who asked for it milk to drink from his goats – of which he has 100 – as part of a promise made to Santo Mártir who cured his herd of a dreadful ailment. Many also brought their cattle and even dogs to the hermitage”.
According to the author over 2,000 people attended the event 99 years ago and mass was said by Fr Eulogio Gutiérrez Estevez, who was the parish priest in Adeje for 17 years, and who, according to a blog by historian Octavio Rodríguez Delgado, was possibly the person responsible for bringing the statue of San Sebastián, which is the one still carried in the procession today almost one hundred years later, to the parish. Following the mass there was the eagerly anticipated procession to the sea with people throwing bouquets of flowers into the water, followed by a meal with food brought by residents from their homes, until sundown, “the end of a day of good fortune for the body and soul and prosperous for the religion and economy of the town”, concluded the newspaper article.