|The legend recounts that one evening in
the 15th century, two shepherds were gathering their sheep on the
slopes of Mount Jaizkibel. Just when they were done (it was already
getting quite dark) they saw a strange light shining nearby. When
they went to investigate, they found that in the center of the light
there stood a Virgin Mary statue holding Baby Jesus, who was radiating
Soon a temple was built for her in the place where she was found.
She is carried in procession down to the town only when its inhabitants
are in danger of war or natural disasters.
Several answers are proposed to the question why this Virgin is
called Guadalupe. Some say it’s because the first Virgin of
Guadalupe, the one of Extremadura, was the most famous and beloved
Mary statue of Spain. She was credited with thousands of miracles
and so naturally everybody wanted their own Guadalupe and any statue
of Mother Mary was referred to by that title.
Others say the Black Madonna of Fuenterrabía might have been
the figure head on a bow sprit or mast of a ship called Guadalupe.
What speaks for this is the large hollow space in her back where
she might have been attached to a ship, the fact that the lower
part of her body was a later addition, and the fact that many ships
at the time were called Guadalupe.
The historians of the local monastery of Villuercas always refer
to this Madonna as an offshoot of Guadalupe of Extremadura. Therefore
a few people think that she may have been brought to the Basque
country from Guadalupe’s shrine in Extremadura.
I would suggest that her devotees called her Guadalupe of Hondarribia
because she was black and beautiful and found in the earth like
her more famous sister in Extremadura.
The earliest written record we have of her stems from 7/26/1526.
Her most famous miracles were an amazing victory she granted Spanish
soldiers over invading French troops in 1638 and a terrible drought
she brought to an end in 1760. But the faithful have thanked her
for many other miracles. Her altar is surrounded by ex-voti left
by local fishermen in recognition of divine intervention saving
their boats and lives. There are model fishing boats and other marine