Many of you will have seen the small catholic church on the west edge of our village (at Av de Castilla). This is the Ermita San Anton, Hondón de los Frailes and is without a bell but has an iron cross. It only measures 5.38 by 2.00 metres. It has two windows on each side and an altarpiece with the image of San Antonio. If you are passing have a look through the door “spy hole”… often there are candles lit, an altar and crucifix with nice decor and a few chairs for prayer or worship. GOOGLE MAP.
You can see these mini-churches all over Spain, most towns and villages have one or more. Usually they are ornate and pristine inside but tucked away off the beaten track or in very rural areas. Many are not so little though!
The Ermita has a long history being founded around the late 16th century in Ermita, Manila. Its name was taken from La Hermita, the Spanish word for “hermitage”, after the fact that a Mexican hermit resided in the area where he built a hermitage which housed an image of the Virgin Mary known as the Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance). He had his own place to practise his religion. It was Spanish soldiers that found this place, which ultimately spread the word and idea further afield.
Early on the Ermita Churches were very rustic and made of bamboo and wood. being made by hermits, farmers and the poor. As time passed the local community would want to ensure these places reflected their importance and local authorities and the church would fund much more elaborate buildings.
There are also stories and legends that speak of 12 Franciscan priests led by Friar Martin de Valencia, who when settled in new territories (as part of the Spanish Conquest) and decided to build the first churches for the travellers who entrusted their soul to God.
Spain, Valencian Community, Hondón de los Frailes, village, GPS: 38.2714,-0.9319