The History of the Ermita de las Nieves

Historia de la Ermita de las Nieves

Lanzarote is an island with a lot of religious devotion. Within its culture we find the history of the Ermita de las Nieves. A place where locals demonstrate their faith. In we tell you a little more in detail about this topic.

First appearance of the Virgen de Las Nieves

The first appearance of the Virgen de las Nieves is located at the time of the Liberian papacy. The story tells about a marriage that belonged to the Roman nobility, they were already very old and had not been able to have children.

This marriage was attributed a great charity with the neighbor. So they asked the Virgin Mary to tell them what they should do with their inheritance, since they did not have descendants. His intention was to give his goods a good Christian use.

Within the Catholic tradition it is indicated that the Virgin was shown to build a temple of faith for the parishioners of the area. It is said that this showed them the exact place where they had to build the hermitage.

The story also tells that the Virgin gave notice of a great snowfall that would happen in August. That is why they gave it the name of the Snows. The temple was finished, but it did not last for many years. However, it was rebuilt by order of Pope Sixtus III.

It is believed that when the hermitage collapsed several of the pieces of the Virgin went to stop in the sea to reach other places such as Teguise and Palmas Island.

Lanzarote´s Patrona

Currently, Lanzarote has as patroness the Virgen de los Dolores considered as the Lady of the Volcanoes. A name that takes due to the relationship of the island with the volcanoes.

But historically the Virgen de las Nieves was the first dedication that was named as patron saint of Lanzarote in 1725. Over the years she has gone from absolute adoration to oblivion.

Teguise is the center with the largest number of believers in the Virgin. Because that is where the hermitage is located. She is considered the patron saint of catastrophes, calamities and rain.

For years, the lanzaroteños have asked for guidance and help during the calamities and for the rain to come. So much so that sometimes a request was made to get the Virgen de las Nieves not only on her day, but on other occasions to perform processions and ask for miracles.

Although, nowadays the Virgen de las Nieves has less relevance than the Virgen de los Dolores, it has not yet been forgotten by the inhabitants of Teguise. Currently both are considered patron saints of Lanzarote.

celebracion de la Virgen de las Nieves

History of the Ermita de las Nieves

If you are thinking about going to the island and would like to make excursions in Lanzarote to know part of its history, you can not miss the Ermita de las Nieves. This keeps much of the beliefs and traditions of Lanzarote.

Here we tell you a little more about the history, creation and reconstruction of the Ermita de las Nieves, one of the most important on the island.

Construction of the Ermita de las Nieves

By the time of the conquests, in the fifteenth century, around 20 hermitages were built on the island of Lanzarote. Among these the one of the Snows, in honor to the virgin that takes the same name of the temple.

According to the data that was taken from the book “Our Lady of the Snows”, this hermitage was burned and destroyed by a pirate attack around 1576. During those years the looting and attacks were very frequent, so the towns had to be protected with great forts and castles.

The Ermita de las Nieves was abandoned for at least 100 years until the parishioners decided to rebuild it. There are data that show that by 1710 some works were made to the temple, including:

  • Reinforcement of ceilings and walls.
  • Placing of stone slabs on the floor, with enamel.
  • Restoration of the image of the Virgen de la Nieves.

In 1725, when the Virgen de las Nieves was declared as patron saint of Lanzarote, the hermitage was given more importance. However, after this the parishioners began to leave the temple.

Oblivion caused the Ermita de las Nieves to deteriorate to an unsafe place.

vista desde la ermita

New architecture of the hermitage

After the abandonment of the hermitage, for 1966 it is decided to demolish the temple completely. Since there was no way to make a restoration and it was possible that the walls or the ceiling collapsed.

The project was in the hands of Enrique Spínola, a Lanzarote architect born in Teguise of great renown for the time. On the outside of the temple you can see that the original cistern, which is an underground water deposit, is preserved.

Upon entering the first thing that stands out is the image of the Virgen de las Nieves. Just behind the altar is the dressing room.

One of the great attractions of this place and a good reason to visit Lanzarote is the natural viewpoint. From there you can fully appreciate the Caleta de Famara, the Chinijo Archipelago and the Bay of Penedo.

Celebration of the Las Nieves pilgrimage

Although for several decades the celebrations to commemorate the Virgen de las Nieves were quite intermittent, they are currently held every year. Every August 5 people gather at the hermitage and a procession is held.

Teguise becomes emotional during the dates. Well, there are even musical performances. The idea is to make a claim to the culture of the island of Lanzarote.

This is the story of the Ermita de las Nieves. Without a doubt Lanzarote is a place full of culture and traditions that can be very interesting. If you are planning to go to the island you can contact us.