Three religious symbols of Icod de los Vinos began yesterday a trip to the Museo Nacional del Prado, in the capital of Spain, where they will be part of the Tornaviaje exhibition. Ibero-American Art in Spain. This temporary exhibition will make the America-Icod-Madrid connection visible and will serve to share with the world the beauty of the little Virgin of Las Angustias, which was carved in the seventeenth century in Mexico and has remained in the City of Drago for almost 300 years. years; the caiman or stuffed crocodile, which arrived from the Mexican state of Tabasco as an original offering to the Virgin and which has surprised and frightened generations of Icodeans, and the silver filigree cross from the Parroquia de San Marcos, made in a workshop of Havana, in Cuba, and considered a unique work in the world.
THE DAY witnessed yesterday the delicate work of packing and transferring these three treasures of religious art. A work that began in the hermitage of Las Angustias with the votive offer of the alligator that the founder of this temple, Marcos de Torres, brought from Mexico to attract the attention of his fellow citizens. The reptile, stuffed with an ancient technique that has proven its American origin, hung for decades from the ceiling of the temple and is now preserved in a glass and wood urn. It was restored a few years ago and since then it has a better appearance, since it has recovered the teeth, the eyes, the shape of the legs and the color.
After lowering the urn, located on one side of the hermitage, the workers were in charge of preparing a foam mold to protect the animal during its transfer to the Prado Museum, where it will remain on display between October 5, 2021 and October 13 February 2022. He is expected to be back in Icod only a few days later. To say goodbye to the alligator, although there are doubts that it is actually a crocodile, two representatives of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Sorrows attended, the older sister Inmaculada Méndez de León and Álvaro López, grandson of the Virgin’s Waitress. In addition, the municipal worker from the Heritage area and local researcher Miguel Delgado was present.
Méndez, representing the 50 confreres, underlines thate in the group “they are calm” because they know that both the virgin and the alligator “are in good hands”They also have the experience of a previous loan, of the painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, “which returned perfectly.” López adds that “everyone is very happy and excited because this part of the cultural and religious heritage of the town is given so much relevance.”
Miguel Delgado details that there is a writing “in the handwriting” of Marcos de Torres in which he says that he brought the caiman so that the people of ICD “admire what grows in the rivers of Mexico.” There are several legends, such as the one that tells that Torres, who is buried in the hermitage itself, was attacked by the animal in a river. However, Delgado assures that it is not true: «He simply commissioned it to bring it to Icod and show something exotic that would impress. And it took almost two years to arrive.
“De Torres was an important man in his time, a rich landowner who had a fleet of ships anchored in the old port of Garachico, before the eruption of the Trevejo volcano buried him. That is why I had a lot of contact with America ”, explains Delgado.
The other two elements that travel to the Prado Museum left the Parroquia de San Marcos. It is about the Virgin of Las Angustias, an unknown author, and the silver filigree cross that was commissioned in Cuba in the seventeenth century. Delgado explains that it is “a work by Jerónimo de Espellosa and is considered one of the best examples of this type of ornamental elements, weighing 47 kilos and measuring 2.4 meters high.” «The most outstanding feature of the whole work is the foot, where the work was exhausting work. All surfaces are made up of a continuous filigree fabric ”, he explained.
The official chronicler of Icod and president of the Board of Chroniclers of the Canary Islands, José Fernando Díaz, affirms that this exit will produce “a kind of temporary tear”, but at the same time it will allow to give the importance it deserves to a Virgin of Las Angustias, who is “an outstanding example of Mexican Baroque”, and to a “simply unique” silver cross. It details that it was done in a workshop on Obispo Street in Havana, “commissioned by the Dean of the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba, Nicolás Estévez Borges, from Ica. A cross that, with good judgment, has stopped going out in procession since 2016 to prevent it from being damaged.
José Francisco Acosta Afonso, butler of the Nazarene and president of the Board of Brotherhoods of Icod, will act as representative of the Parish of San Marcos, “with pride and a little nervous”, in the transfer procedure. Yesterday he was in charge of dismantling the silver cross and helping with the packaging. On the 22nd he will be in Madrid to verify that the pieces arrive whole and in perfect condition, and that the assembly is carried out correctly again. The parish priest of San Marcos, Rubén Fagundo, lives this experience “with enormous expectations, since the great heritage of Icod de los Vinos will be revealed and we believe that it can also help generate an economy for our city in the future.” More than nerves, the parish priest feels “responsibility” and recognizes that “the tension” is not going to be removed “until they are here again.”
For the mayor of Icod, Francis González (CC), “this transfer is a source of pride for the municipality, which gives two of its jewels, along with the lizard of Las Angustias. The artistic and historical relevance of these two pieces is evidenced by the interest of the organizers of this exhibition ”, which are the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Fundación Axa.
Second journey of the cross since 1992
The silver filigree cross of the Parroquia de San Marcos, in Icod de los Vinos, already left the Ciudad del Drago in 1992 to be shown to the world at the Universal Exposition of Seville. After that trip to the Expo, it has remained in the temple and, since 2016, it has not been taken out in procession to avoid the possible deterioration of a work considered one of the best silver filigree crosses in the world. It weighs about 47 kilos and is over two meters tall. It is estimated that it was made between 1663 and 1665 in the studio of the artist Jerónimo de Espellosa, commissioned by Nicolás Estévez Borges from Ica.