THE SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF AFRICA
The history of this church dates back to when the image of Our Lady of Africa was sent to Ceuta in 1421 by the Infante Henry the Navigator, ordering that it should be venerated from such time and dedicated to Saint Mary of Africa, and they also built a temple.
The building is in baroque style and its base is rectangular with three naves, the central one being the widest and tallest, beside which the head is placed, composed of the main chapel and two secondary ones. The vestry and other rooms of the temple are connected to this. The current appearance of the façade is due to the restoration work carried out in 2002. We should highlight the baroque altarpiece inside, located in the main chapel and made of carved golden wood.
It was paid for by Bishop Martín de Barcia in about 1752 and takes up the whole front area, with a structure consisting of a supporting plinth and body divided into three panels and an attic.
The altarpiece is overlooked by the picture of Our Lady of Africa, which corresponds to the model of the Pietá. It is a figure with large slim shape, in common mourning, hiding the Virgin’s hair to give the impression of sadness and old age. It is carved from a single block of wood, except the head of Christ and the Virgin’s left hand. It is hollow in the rear part, as was the custom for images designed to be placed on altars or altarpieces. There is also a crypt in the lower part of the Main Chapel where nobles and clergymen, as well as a daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Medinaceli or more recent remains of the parish and the rector of the sanctuary, Bernabé Perpén, are buried.
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