surinenglish

Association wants chapel dedicated to Vélez-Málaga's patron saint to be rebuilt

The chapel was constructed in 1497.
The chapel was constructed in 1497. / Eugenio Cabezas
  • The Asociación de Amigos de San Sebastián is calling for the fifteenth-century chapel, recently being used as a pen for goats, to be restored

The only battle in which King Ferdinand of Spain was involved during the Conquista del Reino de Granada (taking of the Kingdom of Granada), happened in Vélez-Málaga. It took place in April 1487, days before the surrender of the mayor, Abul Kasim Venegas.

Sebastián Fernández 'El Pelao', a groom or a royal soldier, placed himself between the Muslims and the monarch, and was killed by an arrow that was meant for the king. In thanks, Queen Isabella ordered the construction of a chapel in honour of San Sebastián, who became the patron of the Axarquía town from then on. The event is also reflected in the municipal coat of arms. However, the remains of that chapel have been abandoned for decades, recently being used as a pen for goats.

The different councils that have passed through the town hall have announced, repeatedly, their intention to reform the remains of the chapel and create a visitors' centre there. However, nothing has ever been done. The chapel, or what remains of it, continues to deteriorate, due mainly to a conflict over ownership, as there is a neighbour who maintains that he owns the deeds of the property

Last March, a group of concerned residents formed the Asociación de Amigos de San Sebastián, to demand that the authorities restore the old chapel. They also want Día de San Sebastián on 20 January to be given more importance. They would also like the council to organise a historical reenactment of the surrender of the town and the entry of the Christian troops in April. The president of the association, Lucia Godoy, explained that they are trying to get the council to reach an agreement with the local resident who insist that he owns the chapel. "It could easily be solved with a lawsuit," she said.