On July the 16th the festivity of the Virgen del Carmen is celebrated and in the Punta del Hidalgo (Tenerife) they get ready for it. When the last Sunday of the month of July is getting closer, the fishermen decorate their boats and make the sirens sound in the coastal area, in honor of their patron saint.
The Virgen del Carmen is a sailor’s tradition lived with enthusiasm and great devotion. There are many towns in Tenerife that celebrate great maritime processions because of the Carmen festivities. The images of the Virgin are taken from their respective churches to the dock or the beach where they are shipped to travel the coast under the protection of the sailors and accompanied by decorated recreational boats full of believers.
The carriers of the Image get rid of their sandals for the shipment and get into the sea to ship the image, avoiding it from getting wet and damaged. During the sailor’s procession, a flowers’ offering is placed to remember those who have died at sea and a minute of silence is kept. This tradition is deeply rooted in many of the coastal towns in the Canary Islands.
The image goes out in procession from the Punta del Hidalgo and goes to the zone of the Nautical Club in Bajamar, where it makes a short stop to be welcomed with fireworks. In its return, the same happens in the coastal area of Bajamar, where once the fireworks exhibition ends, it returns to the starting point where the believers wait to continue the returning trip to the church.
The worship of this virgin goes back to the group of hermits that, inspired by the prophet Elias, went away to live in Mount Carmelo, considered the garden of Israel (“Karmel” means garden). These devotees, after the crusades, formed the order of Our Lady of Mount Carmelo (Carmelites) in Europe. The Mount Carmelo, nowadays located in Israel, has been a place of religious devotion from ancient times. In the Hebrew Bible, it is mentioned with the name of Hakkarmel (place of the garden) in the book of the prophet Isaias and it is described as a place of great beauty and it also appears related with the prophet Elias. Nevertheless, it doesn’t appear in the New Testament.
According to the Carmelite tradition, on the 16th of July, 1251, the image of the Virgen del Carmen appeared to Saint Simon Stock, general superior of the Carmelite order, to whom she gave his habits and the scapular, main symbol of the Carmelite Marian cult. According to the modern tradition, the virgin promised to free from the purgatory all the souls that had worn the scapular during their lives, the next Saturday after their deaths to take them to Heaven. This veneration received papal recognition in 1587 and has been supported by the following Popes, especially regarding the scapular. From that day the festivity in honor of the Virgen del Carmen is celebrated on this day.
Other places where the Festivity of the Virgen del Carmen is celebrated in Tenerife:
Puerto de la Cruz.
From the church of La Peña de Francia, the Virgen del Carmen leaves in procession together with San Telmo, surrounded by compliments and songs dedicated by the fishermen. At the end, there is a big fireworks exhibition in the dock of the same fishing pier. Afterward, the images return to their own churches.
Valleseco (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
Valleseco celebrates its patron saint festivities in honor of the Virgen del Carmen on the Sunday after the 16th of July, with a procession to the neighborhood’s dock and the maritime procession through the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.