Insurgent Corsairs, Not Welcomed Visit in Holguin
During the 19th century Gibara boasted of its huge importance in the region; the construction of the battery Fernando VII, named after Spanish King then, and other military facilities allowed the village grow faster. By 1820, some 21 houses were already built there. (1)
A Royal decree by Fernando VII, issued on December 23, 1821 Gibara was given a third class category, but only went in office in July 21, 1822.
The nicknamed Villa Blanca became an important economic center in the jurisdiction of Holguin and other nearby territories. If by 1827 the import-export reached 72 340 pesos, ten years later values topped values of 260 000, 290 000 pesos, and in 1847 they exceeded 638 687 pesos, and 666 040 in 1858. In-between 1861 to 1864, the imported merchandise reached 593 564 pesos and the export went to three million 913 058 pesos. (2)
As the village grew, they built a small chapel, but the economic development forced dwellers think of building a church that would meet the local wealth and the changing airs by the town's residents and villagers living nearby.
The active commerce and the vessels docking at the port allowed rising one of the most gorgeous religious facilities in the jurisdiction of Holguin.
The construction of the church was funded by Victoriana de Avila, a well to do woman from Holguin, together with her husband, whose important richness made it possible for several works of social benefit to open in this northeastern Cuban region.
The first stone was placed in September 13, 1850 and parishioner crossed its doors in June 11, 1853. The church was blessed that day by Archbishop Antonio Maria y Claret. The temple is located in the former parade ground, today Calixto Garcia Park.
The facade is oriented to Independencia street, formerly called Fortaleza, because it led to the Fernando VII battery, which was later renamed Calle Real. Today, it is the most important in town as it joins three main plazas there, called Plaza del Fuerte - today's Calixto Garcia Park and Colon. Juan Bautista Pons was in charge of the construction project, which frames rectangular indoor plant with three naves, presbytery, sacristy and a priest dwelling. The building, that is 10 meters wide and 33 meters long, belongs to the [...] neoclassic Tuscan order, broadly used then in Cuba; however, with Moorish touches, wooden ceiling and several other elements linked to that architectural school, plus red tiles on the roof. (3) P 26
Thanks to people's subscription a clock was bought and placed on one of the towers. Over the main gate, one can read:
Rein of Doña Isabela II
With the endorsement of Illustrious Señor Governor of the Archbishopric this second temple was built with the contributions by Señora Victoriana de Avila and managed by Don Juan Bautista Pons. (4)
The high altar is a neo-gothic piece and golden altars of neoclassic style are yet decorating the lateral naves. That temple stores a rich archive with books on defunciones, baptism and matrimonies. On the right side, the town's first graveyard was built – today gone. The San Fulgencio church in Gibara is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous religious facilities in the province of Holguin.
1-Archivo Historico Provincial de Holguin Tenencia de Gobierno y Ayuntamiento de Holguin 1752 1878 Legajo 64 Expediente 1943 Acta del 16 de octubre de 1820 folio 86v.
2--Herminio Leyva Aguilera. Gibara y su jurisdiccion. Establecimiento Tipografico de Martin Bim Gibara 1894. pp.. 161/171
3-- Angela Peña and Elda Fernandez Las iglesias mas antiguas de Holguin. Publicgraf Holguin 1994 p.26