In her sanctuary on Monte Jaizkibel 5 km out of town. Plenty of signs lead the way and if the church is locked the caretakers who live next door will open it. In the Guipuzcoa province of the Basque country, right on the border with France, on the beach, 20 km from San Sebastian. 15th century, painted wood.

Virgin of Guadalupe of Fuenterrabía,
Patroness of Hondarribia

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 heavenly light.

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 items.

Since the victory over the French in 1638 her feast day has been celebrated on September 8th, the birthday of Mother Mary. (Before that it used to be held on March 25th, probably the day of her discovery.) The main attraction of the day consists of about four thousand people marching up to her sanctuary. They are organized into ca. 20 groups of uniformed period “soldiers”, each of which fires a gun salute next to the sanctuary in honor of the Black Madonna.


Her sanctuary is on the coastal route of the pilgrims’ path to Santiago de Compostella. There are 6 more Black Madonnas in the Guipúzcoa province.*

* Sources: Miquel Ballbè i Boada, Las Vírgenes Negras y Morenas en España Vol. 1, Gafiques ISTER, Moia/Terrassa: 1991, p. 427-9 and “Historia de Guipúzcoa