The virgin of El Carmen


July the 16th is a happy day in the fishing villages in Gran Canaria as it is the day the festivity honouring their patron saint takes place. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, commonly known as Virgin of El Carmen or Our Lady of El Carmen, one of the invocations for the Virgin Mary, is considered by Spanish fishermen their loyal guardian and holds the title of Patron awarded by the Armada (Spanish Navy). Also known as “Star of the Seas” (lat. Stella Maris), practically every village and town in the coast of Spain honour her with processions and sea celebrations.

Every single fishing village in Gran Canaria celebrates the El Carmen Day each one its own way. The Agaete fishermen never miss it and every July the 16th they go out in the sea in a pilgrimage called romería. The vessels, colourfully adorned, follow a leading boat which bears the Virgin image on board. Arguineguin and Mogan also celebrate the day with merry sea processions but, as both villages are relatively close to each other and share many fishing tasks, they coordinate to celebrate the day in consecutive weekends, so the day is celebrated twice, once in each village.

In Arguineguin takes place, on that same 16th day, an onshore procession, and on the first Sunday after July the 16th the sea romería would take place.

In Castillo del Romeral the tradition varies, due to the fact that until the 1940s the whole village would stay deserted from June to September, as the population used to move to the south of the island fleeing from the strong winds that blow in the area during these months. This is the reason why the festivity of the patron, the Virgin of El Carmen, takes place in September and not in July as it initially should be.

San Cristobal, more modest, honour their patron saint with a service.