Last Thursday, the Ferrol Diving Unit of the Spanish Navy was training in the Ria of Marín (on the coast of northwestern Spain) when the divers were surprised by a finding of great beauty.
The Ferrol Diving Unit belongs to the group of operational units of the Maritime Action Force. Among its different tasks, they are in charge of protecting “Submerged Archaeological Heritage,” locating and registering all the material found in the maritime area under the jurisdiction of the Ferrol Maritime Action Command.
Among the divers was Pablo Perales, who spoke with Aleteia and told us first hand about the surprising discovery.
A mysterious statue
In the Ria of Marín, specifically to the north of Punta Corveira Beach, are found Castiñeira Islet and the Cabezos de Arcade shallows, which are about 600 yards from the shore.
The Ferrol Diving Unit was carrying out physical training activities in that area, when at the bottom of the sea, at a depth of about 33 ft, they met two other divers who, it seems, were locals from the area. They indicated by gestures that they wanted to show them something. They took them to a cave, which had a statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at its entrance.
The white statue, enthroned as the Queen of the Seas among a tapestry of herbs and seaweed, stood out strikingly. The origin of the figure is not known, nor how it arrived there. It’s only known that the same locals who showed the statue to the diving unit of the Spanish Navy found the figure half buried in the sand at the bottom, in that same spot.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is the patron saint of the people of the sea, including fishermen and the Spanish Navy. For this reason, she’s called Queen and Star of the Sea, “Stella Maris.” In many towns and cities of the Spanish coast, her feast is celebrated with maritime pilgrimages on July 16.
A tradition of submerged statues
Statues being placed underwater is something of a tradition around the world. In Spain alone, there are numerous statues of various advocations of the Blessed Virgin Mary that populate the seabed. Some are at times taken to land to be venerated with great faith and devotion by groups of divers; others, like this one in Ria of Marín, always remain underwater.
Among others in Spain, there is one in Malaga, in front of Malagueta Beach. This figure of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 28 inches high and weighing 143 pounds, has its chapel 33 ft under the sea. Once a year, it is brought to the surface for public devotion.
A marble statue of the patron saint of Algeciras, the Our Lady of the Palm, is also submerged by Rinconcillo beach.
The same happens with a bronze image of the Our Lady (the “Santina”) of Covadonga, which is submerged at the bottom of the waters of the old port of Cudillero.
The different invocations of the Virgin under the sea have a great popularity all over the world. The places where they are placed have been and are a place of prayer for many parishioners.
May the submerged sculpture found in Ria of Marín, in the pleasant immensity of the sea, will inspire us to bend down reverently before her sacred image and see her as our Mother and Patroness, “Star of the Sea.”