Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2014 Contents but the colour of a negro woman, and
possessing magnificent robes and jew-
The church soldiered on and began
to deteriorate, as most wooden buildings
would in the tropics. Sadly, the stained
glass suffered and some panels were
damaged during Hurricane Alma and
boarded up. To prevent the church from
collapsing, the original wooden piles
were replaced by concrete ones.
The massive cost of restoring the
windows was prohibitive and a small,
dedicated band of people came together
to make it happen. These persevering
folks were Elton Rostant, Karen de Ver-
teuil, George de Verteuil, Monica
Clement, Simone Taylor, Yvonne Ros-
tant, Clares Batholomew, Franklyn Lee
Sam and Joseph Rostant.
After years of struggle, the committee
was able to send the glass to France for
restoration and all were re-installed
and re-dedicated in September 2004.
The old Stations of the Cross made of
Italian gesso were also restored.
Every year, the feast day of Our Lady
of Tortuga is celebrated and the little
Black Virgin is paraded through the vil-
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt June 22, 2014
this scrumptious pastry and lightning is ambiguous.
The éclair was first created in the 1860s, the original creator is still
debatable, though some food historians speculate it is Marie- Antoine
Caréme, who was a famous pastry chef for French royalty. The French
for a hollow interior, then custard, puree or cream is piped into its
center and is topped off with icing.
These exquisite treats have became a global favourite since its creation.
Head over to your nearest or favourite bakery and celebrate National
Chocolate Éclair Day!
Perched on top of a
windy ridge with
some of the most
awesome views of
Trinidad is the village of Tortuga.
In the late 1600s, at what is now
the nearby hamlet of Mayo,
Capuchin monks from Spain
founded a mission to convert
Amerindians to Christianity.
The place was consecrated as
Nuestra Senora de Mont Serrat
(Saw-Toothed Mountain). Rem-
nants of this were still visible in
1867-70, when land reforms saw
Mayo and Tortuga villages being
properly laid out with public build-
ings, shops, and a couple streets.
Cocoa was the great economic
powerhouse from this time until
the market collapsed in 1920. A
large and very mixed population
had settled in the Montserrat Hills,
where the villages stand, and con-
sisted of Yorubas, Congoes, ex-
indentured Indians, Chinese, and
many Cocoa-panyols. A majority
of these people were Roman
Catholics and they helped build
one of the most beautiful struc-
tures in the land.
The parish priest, the Abbe
Marie Jules Dupoux, paid $1,500
for 17 acres on a ridge above Tor-
tuga. Planters supplied lumber
(mainly cedar), and other more
humble parishioners provided
labour. The priest himself was no
backward woodworker and made
the altar out of wood with his own
The shell was described by
Kingsley as follows: "A church had
been built, the shell at least, and
partly floored, with a very simple,
but not tasteless, altar; the Abbé
had a good house, with a gallery,
jalousies, and white china handles
to the doors."
Aside from the wooden altar,
the most stunning feature of the
simple wooden chapel was the col-
lection of magnificent stained-
glass windows depicting St
Michael, St Jacques, St Francis
Xavier, St Martin, Our Lady s
Annunciation, St Andrew and St
Louis, among others. These were
the gift of Adrien De Verteuil, the
owner of a large cocoa estate and
son of the prominent Dr Louis De
Verteuil, who was ostensibly hon-
oured in the window of St Louis.
The windows (20 in all) were the
handiwork of Henri-Louis Gesta
of France, whose studio was the
largest stained-glass manufacturer
in the world.
Aside from the glass, the other
unique aspect of the church is that
it housed an image of a Black Vir-
gin, one of two, the other of course
being La Divina Pastora of Siparia.
For decades, history promoted the
origin of the statue as being
Amerindian, hailing from the old
mission at Mayo, but an 1887
account by J H Collens shows that
it was imported in the 19th century
by a parishioner.
"Rather more than six miles
distance from the railway station
is a junction road; one arm of this
leads eastwards to Gran Couva,
the other being the Mayo Main
Road branching southward towards
Williamsville. Following up the lat-
ter road beyond Philippine are San
Pedro estate (we are now in the
land of cacao), the property of the
late Mr St L d Abadie, who did
much towards opening up the
quarter, and La Montserrat (Mr
Eligon). Having surmounted the
rather steep ascent, before us is
the Roman Catholic church of
Notre Dame de Montserrat, a com-
modious cedar building, containing
what is rather a novelty, a black
image of the Virgin Mother. This
was given by a Mr Joaquin Colom-
er, who imported it expressly from
Spain. In connection with this, it
must be remembered that at
Montserrat, in Spain, the Church
of Nuestra Senora de Montserrat
contains a similar image, which is
one of the most celebrated in the
country, being visited annually by
more than 80,000 pilgrims. The
Encyclopaedia Britannica describes
it as being regularly handsome,
Tortuga RC Church...
Return to glory days
Tortuga RC Church at dusk showing
the illuminated rose window.
PHOTOS: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
The stained-glass windows behind the altar of Tortuga RC Church.
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