By Domingo Medina.| When September appears on the calendar, La Laguna is transformed, and all eyes are directed to the image of the Laguna Christ, which was made of noble wood from Flanders by the Belgian sculptor Louis Van Der Vule, according to research carried out in 1999 by the Professor Francisco Galante Gómez. Previously, according to other historians, it was believed that the origin of the image was from Seville, from the Andalusian Gothic School. It arrived in La Laguna in 1520, after a journey through different European cities that ended up in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and was probably donated by the Duke of Medina Sidonia to the Adelantado, who was looking for a Crucified to venerate in the convent of San Miguel de las Victorias.
According to recent research, Christ arrived in the city somewhat later than some historians claim, that is, between 1562 and 1576, the latter year in which he received the Virgin of Candelaria on her visit to La Laguna, according to the agreement of the Cabildo. of that date. It seems logical to think that the sacred image arrived in the city before the death of the Adelantado in 1525, since he decided to have his tomb built in the monastery.
The miraculous image of Christ of La Laguna is one of the most venerated and is located in its Royal Sanctuary, a temple that withstood the consequences of the torrential rains on the night of January 24 to 25, 1713, and the serious fire that destroyed the convent in its entirety on the night of July 21, 1810 (minute book, folio 97 vto.).
The slave house served as a temporary refuge for the friars. Although the convent was never rebuilt in its entirety, despite the efforts of the Franciscan provincial Fray Antonio Tejera, the Lagunera society and the contribution of Slavery, however, in a short time the chapel that we know was rebuilt. Currently, one of the most important spiritual temples in the Canary Islands. It has an embossed silver altarpiece, from the 18th century and in the Baroque style. Its front is the oldest found on the islands and was donated by Don Alonso de Nava y Grimón. The last restoration was carried out in 2018, with financing from the Historical Heritage Area of the Cabildo de Tenerife, and the contribution of Slavery’s own funds.
The Christ of La Laguna has a Slavery, when it was founded in its beginnings, by 33 men, (alluding to the age of Christ) on September 6, 1659 at the initiative of Fray Juan de San Francisco. His first Senior Slave was Don Fernando Arias de Saavedra. Slavery is heir to the Brotherhood of the Holy Christ of La Laguna, which was created upon the arrival of the Holy Image to the city, and which was made up of men and women.
By Decree of 1892, by Bishop Ramón Torrijos y Gómez, the number of Slaves became unlimited. Since its constitution, the accompaniment to the Holy Image, Good Friday at dawn and the celebration of the main festival on September 14, in commemoration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, were established as the main public cults. Since its founding, Slavery has held the title of “Venerable”, to which is added the title of “Royal” with authorization for the use of the shield of the royal arms, by Royal Order of His Majesty Don Alfonso XIII on December 29, 1906, and that of “Pontifical” granted by Pope Pius X, on February 15, 1908.
With the promulgation of what is known as the Mendizábal Law, on July 29, 1837, by which the Religious Orders are extinguished and the assets of the convents are seized by the State, it is established that the chapel of the Santísimo Cristo, rebuilt by the Slavery, pass to the priest of the Tabernacle of the Cathedral.
What remained of the convent was occupied by the Battalion of the La Laguna Militias, being colonel under Don Cristóbal de Salazar de Frías. The Law of September 2, 1841, was even harsher than the previous one, since it meant the total dispossession of Convents and Temples. So in its second article of the aforementioned Law it says that all the assets of the church are incorporated into the State. On March 27, 1847, Slavery turned to the Minister of Grace and Justice who, three years later, by means of a Royal Order of March 21, 1850, agreed with Slavery, since this had always been a Congregation of laymen, with the exclusive purpose of worshiping the Holy Christ of La Laguna. On September 17, 1877, the Senior Slave was authorized to be given his own house, provided to the Military Commander that had been given to him as a “loan.”
The Governing Board of the Slavery of Christ met on March 27, 1906, chaired by Bishop Nicolás Rey Redondo, agreed, at the request of the Senior Slave Don Carlos Hamilton, to register King Alfonso XIII in Slavery and give him the Medal of Gold on the occasion of the royal visit to the Sanctuary. Likewise, it was agreed to award the Silver Medal of Slavery to the infants Doña Teresa de Borbón y Baviera and Fernando de Baviera y Borbón. Both medals were made by the Lagunero goldsmith Rafael Fernández Trujillo.
On the occasion of this first visit of the King, the Sanctuary is renamed the Royal Sanctuary of the Holy Christ of La Laguna. The origin of the festivals of Christ predates the founding of Slavery.
According to the historian Núñez de la Peña, the Franciscans invited a nobleman and person with roots on the Island to organize them. Accepting this assignment was considered an honor, which is why they took care to organize them better than their predecessor, they prepared comedies, fires, parties, tournaments, liveries, bulls, and ring races on horseback, events that were held in the Plaza del Adelantado, La Carrera street and in the Plaza del Cristo.
In the year 1630, as provider of his Holy Feast, Francisco Baptista Pereira de Lugo donated, and according to the inscription, refers to the silver cross that replaced the wooden one in which the image came, and which is preserved in the convent of the Claras de La Laguna nuns (Núñez de la Peña).
When Slavery was created in 1659, the Senior Slave and two slaves called deputies in charge of making the celebrations began with the organization of the party by Slavery itself.
During the celebrations of the Fiestas del Cristo, on September 19, 1667, Antonio Salazar de Frías, a native of La Laguna and resident in the Salazar palace, built by his father and grandfather in 1649, at the age of 19, was murdered at the age of 19. betrayal in a challenge with a somewhat older friend of his, named Martín de Ascanio y Correa de Benavides. Antonio saw a ring that he had given to a lady shine in Martín’s hands, so he challenged him to a duel on the plain of La Laguna, behind the Convent of San Francisco.
The young Antonio managed to defeat his opponent in a duel, who was badly injured and gave him the ring, giving up. But, when he went to help him lift him off the ground, Martín de Ascanio took out a dagger and mortally wounded him.
The murderer took refuge in the Franciscan convent and remained until the end of his days, because Don Cristóbal Salazar de Frías, Antonio’s father, filed a family lawsuit against him in which he was sentenced to death.