San Lorenzo Valley prepares to commemorate in 2022 the 400 years since the foundation of its hermitage, the first in the municipality of Arona, and to commemorate such an important date, the Historic Heritage area of the Arona City Council is already working together with the neighbors and associations of that urban nucleus in the organization of the program that will be carried out throughout of the whole year. A whole range of events is being prepared that will undoubtedly do justice to this fourth centenary.
It was the year 1622 when the descendants of a Canarian aboriginal nobleman, Salvador Gonzalez Guanche, they made their father’s testamentary disposition a reality: to raise and found on their lands the current neighborhood of La Fuente, in what was the Valle del Ahijadero, a hermitage dedicated to San Lorenzo Mártir.
He could not know it, but the last wish of that Guanche, born in Güímar and married in Vilaflor to the also Aboriginal Beatriz González Berganza, would end up giving the definitive name to the San Lorenzo Valley, one of the most important enclaves of the Arona midlands. .
Three centuries later, the residents began the petition to move the hermitage to the most populated part of the valley, specifically, in El Natero, although they encountered resistance from the residents of La Fuente. Finally, on Sunday, September 16, 1923, the last mass was celebrated in the old hermitage, where “an immense crowd” gathered, according to the Official Gazette of the Bishopric of Tenerife published at the time.
“In 1855, the parish priest of Arona, Miguel Rodríguez Guillama, already requested the reconstruction and transfer of the hermitage to a more central place in the San Lorenzo Valley. But it was in the first third of the twentieth century, when many residents began requests for the transfer, with which the residents of La Fuente did not agree, but those of the rest of the hamlets that made up the wide Valley did. According to the Official Gazette of the Bishopric of Tenerife in its diocesan chronicle, on June 22, 1923: “The reverend priest regent of Arona, Mr. Díaz-Llanos, works jealously together with a respectable commission named for that purpose, to move the lonely hermitage from San Lorenzo to the most populated part of the valley, an ancient aspiration of its inhabitants ”, writes historian Octavio Rodríguez Delgado.
The movement of the hermitage stone by stone began, cows dragging beams, mules and camels stones, and even boys and girls carrying tiles on their heads, while the images descended in procession. The whole town went up to the hermitage and went down to build the new temple to San Lorenzo. The works progressed quickly, despite the irregularity of the harvests and, therefore, of the economic resources. In fact, the neighbors held parties at the end of January 1926 to raise funds and be able to finish off the temple. Six years later, in November 1929, Bishop Fray Albino González Menéndez Reigada blessed her and finally elevated her to the rank of Church.
The temple would not be finished until 1931, although the bell tower would not be built until years later, but the important thing is that, finally, Valle San Lorenzo had its church. A church that keeps in its heart the memory of the hermitage, transferred by the neighbors’ own hands from La Fuente.
Almost 20 years ago, in 2003, the Painting students of the course carried out by the Arona City Council’s Cultural Council discovered part of the remains of the first hermitage of Valle San Lorenzo. Specifically, the students located the house of the first shoemaker in the Valley or part of the remains of the original hermitage, which conserves a private individual in an old warehouse. From that finding, the City Council started a file with the possibility of recovering the remains.
For the mayor of Arona, José Julián Mena, “the commemoration of the founding of the hermitage of Valle San Lorenzo and the history of the temple itself is a sample of the spirit of our people. A hardworking people, proud, committed to their land and their legacy, in addition to feeling great devotion to the Virgin of Fátima and San Lorenzo. In 2022 it will be 400 years since the hermitage, the first in Arona, was erected in the La Fuente neighborhood, and 100 since all the residents moved it, stone by stone, to the Los Nateros area. Therefore, next year is a very emblematic date, not only for Valle San Lorenzo, but for the entire municipality, ”says the mayor. “A people that does not take care of its heritage, has no history, and that is why we are working hand in hand with the citizens of the valley to offer them the greatest tribute.”
José Alberto Delgado, head of the Historic Heritage Area, joins the mayor’s words and adds that “our heritage is our essence as a people. It is important to instill in all the citizens of Arona the need to protect it, value it and preserve it. Precisely, the commemoration of these 400 years of history of the hermitage of Valle San Lorenzo is one more example of our commitment to our legacy ”. Regarding the events, “we are organizing a special commission, in which the citizens of this urban nucleus will participate by contributing their ideas to develop a program worthy of its history, and may 2022 be a memorable year for Valle San Lorenzo” .