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Guanche Statue and Basilica Candelaria
Along the edge of the beach is one of the most unusual things to be found in Candelaria – a line of statues depicting the nine aboriginal Guanche kings that guard the Virgin of Candelaria. Stood upon tall rocks, these statues are huge and look intimidatingly at the visitors who gather to take photos. Candelaria is one of the lesser-known coastal resorts on the island ,and is located in the north east of Tenerife, just a short drive away from Santa Cruz. Most importantly, the village is home to the Virgin of Candelaria and the Basilica, two religious features that people travel from all over to see and experience.The object of veneration is the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria, an original of which was apparently discovered on a beach by two goatherds of the Guanche settlers in 1392. The story goes that when one of the shepherds tried to throw a stone at the statue, his arm became paralyzed. The statue was taken to the local Guanche chief who placed it in a cave from where it was stolen and taken to Lanzarote. So many strange happenings were associated with it that the statue was hastily returned to Tenerife. The Black Madonna soon acquired a reputation for curing illnesses and attracted pilgrims from all over the island. When the Spanish arrived they attributed the statue with the successful conversion of the Guanches to Christianity and built a church for her in 1526. In 1826 the Black Madonna was to return to her origins when a tidal wave swept her from the church in Candelaria back out to sea .Legend tells that Guanche settlers saw the statue of the Black Madonna as protector of land and sea. When washed ashore she had a child in one hand and a green candle in the other, giving the name Candelaria. The large cave where she was kept is easily accessible where the history and legend are explained. Here she was venerated until a sanctuary, the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, was built in 1526. It was destroyed by fire and replaced in the nineteenth century by the present church and an adjacent convent. The image that adorns the main altar is a copy of a copy sculpted by Fernanado Estevez. With her dark skin and shining crown, she is splendidly clothed in a dazzling green robe and traditionally carries a baby in her right hand and a candle in her left hand. On 15 August pilgrims come from far and wide to pay homage to the Black Madonna when she is ceremoniously carried out to sea by local fisherman. As patron of the island, she is fervently venerated in Candelaria and throughout Tenerife.