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Juan Romero de Figueroa

This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Romero and the second or maternal family name is de Figueroa.
 

A street next to the Church of St. Mary the Crowned (Spanish: Iglesia de Santa María la Coronada) in San Roque named after Romero de Figueroa.
Juan Romero de Figueroa (Gibraltar, September 16, 1646 - id. July 7, 1720[1]) was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest, in charge of the Parish Church of St. Mary the Crowned (Santa Maria la Coronada y San Bernardo)[2] during the last years of Gibraltar's Spanish period and first ones of the British period, until his death. He remained at his post even after the territory's capture by an Anglo-Dutch fleet in 1704 on behalf of the Archduke Charles, pretender to the Spanish throne in the War of the Spanish Succession, when most of its population abandoned Gibraltar (only about 60 out of 4,000 remained).[citation needed]
 

Capture of Gibraltar

Main article: Capture of Gibraltar

Juan Romero de Figueroa was born in Gibraltar and baptized on September 16, 1646 in the Church of St. Mary the Crowned. His parents were Álvaro Martín and Leonor Vázquez. He took the minor orders in 1661, and was appointed deputy chancellor of the Seminary of Cádiz in 1674. Since 1682 he had its parish in Gibraltar,[1] and was the priest of the Parish Church of St. Mary the Crowned on August 4, 1704 when the city capitulated to the besieging Anglo-Dutch forces. Along with his curate and the bell ringer he successfully protected his church from the plundering soldiery which sacked the town after the surrender. Other churches in the territory were desecrated.[3][4]

The Terms of Surrender of Gibraltar and the definite phrasing of the Treaty of Utrecht allowed for the practice of the Catholic Faith, so Romero de Figueroa went on as the priest of the Catholic population of the town until his decease, in 1720. In order to facilitate and stabilise ecclesiastical governance, the Bishop of Cádiz y Ceuta, who had jurisdiction over the church in Gibraltar, made him the first Vicar General of Gibraltar.[2] The altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned keeps a marble tablet with the initials of Juan Romero de Figueroa.[5] His mortal remains lay buried in there.[1]

Romero de Figueroa was an eye-witness to the capture of Gibraltar. His accounts of the incident and the first years of Habsburg and British dominion over the town are notable, as some of the very few primary sources available. Two main works were produced by him: the annotations in the Gibraltar baptismal records which are currently kept in the Church of St. Mary the Crowned (Spanish: Iglesia de Santa María la Coronada in San Roque (a municipality in Gibraltar's township where most of the villagers settled down after the 1704 Anglo-Dutch siege), and a manuscript portraying the events he beheld, which went missing in the midst of the Peninsular War. However, the manuscript was verbatim quoted at length by Ignacio López de Ayala, author of Historia de Gibraltar (Madrid, 1782).[6][7]

As soon as the Franco-Spanish siege (1704–1705) was lifted, Romero de Figueroa begun to secretly send files, religious jewelry, pictures and ornaments to the settlements established in the Campo de Gibraltar. He was also responsible for the safekeeping of the statue of Our Lady of Europe of the shrine of the same name. Upon the capture of Gibraltar in 1704, the shrine was sacked and stripped of all its valuables by the Royal Marines. The statue was mutilated and flung onto the rocks below, to be found by a fisherman who took the remaining pieces to Romero de Figueroa. The priest remitted the statue's leftovers to neighbouring Algeciras, where it was repaired and placed in a small chapel dedicated to St. Bernard, which was later renamed to the Chapel of Our Lady of Europe. It was eventually returned to Gibraltar in 1864, at the request of John Baptist Scandella, Vicar Apostolic of Gibraltar.[8]


References

1.↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Juan Manuel Ballesta Gómez, from the Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltareños (April 2007). "Aproximación a los gibraltareños de 1704" (in Spanish) (PDF). Almoraima. Revista de Estudios Campogibraltareños (Mancomunidad de Municipios del Campo de Gibraltar) (34): 154–155. ISSN 1133-5319. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
2.↑ 2.0 2.1 A short history of the Diocese of Gibraltar
3.↑ Hills, George (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. pp. 173–174. ISBN 0-7091-4352-4.
4.↑ Jackson, William (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar (second edition ed.). Grendon, Northamptonshire, UK: Gibraltar Books. pp. 99–100. ISBN 0-948466-14-6.
5.↑ Altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the web of the Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar.
6.↑ Hills, George (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. pp. 486–487. ISBN 0-7091-4352-4.
7.↑ Ignacio López de Ayala (1782). Historia de Gibraltar. Madrid., translated into English as Ignacio López de Ayala, James Bell. The history of Gibraltar: from the earliest period of its occupation by the Saracens. Pickering.
8.↑ Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society Newsletter no. 73, August 2005. Mail -Marques de Lendinez. Question: "What is the significance of Our Lady of Europa in Gibraltar?"
 

External links
â– Salvador Tavares, exprofessor at the University of Birmingham (December 2006). "El salvador de Santa María la Coronada" (in Spanish) (PDF). Revista intercultural Tres Orillas: 81–86. ISSN 1695-2634. Retrieved 2008-09-27.

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