They find a "photo" of the San Antonio volcano, which erupted on La Palma in 1677

It was a century and a half before the daguerrethiope was invented, but in 1678 the Inquisition wanted to know how the eruption of the San Antonio volcano on La Palma had been, who had frightened La Palma society a year before and received his "photo" of the volcano: a color drawing that his Court in the Canary Islands sent him, together with a complimenting report on what happened every day.

The National Historical Archive has chosen November as its "piece of the month" what you describe as "quite a surprise" within the files of its extensive collection on the Inquisition, a document that is currently becoming current due to the latest eruption of a volcano on La Palma. That document collects the account of how the San Antonio eruption of 1677 began and is accompanied by a color illustration.

It's about a report that the inquisitors of the Canary Islands sent on May 24, 1678 to the Council of the Supreme Inquisition to give an account of the volcanic eruption in the south of La Palma a few months before, as well as the damages produced. His explanations are complemented by a hitherto unpublished drawing, a rarity for the time that the Historical Archive now disseminates on the internet.

The narrative of the events, which spans 14 days (November 13-26, 1677), tells that the eruption was preceded by earthquakes in the vicinity of Fuencaliente, until on Wednesday, November 17, one of the fractures produced by the earthquakes began to spew fire and lava, opening up to 18 mouths, explains the Archive.

"He then realizes the destruction caused by the volcano in the area, listing the names of those injured and the damage suffered by them, mainly burned houses and lava-covered fields. Finally, it warns of the fear that, if another mouth were opened, it could affect the town and district of Fuencaliente, so the fields could not be planted and many residents would have to go to another place to survive, "he adds.

The drawing that complements the text shows the volcano in full eruption, with an immense red flame and black smoke flanked by two mountains on both sides and with lava flows descending its slope until reaching the sea on a cliff, while they set fire to houses and crops.

Also reflected in the illustration are numerous incendiary stones that come out of its mouth impacting some houses. In the upper left, one of these rocks hits a building that has a cross on its roof.. "Could it be the church of San Juan Abad, whose belfry was demolished by the eruption?", Ask those responsible for the National Historical Archive.

Further down, towards the center of the image, on its left side, is represented a man lying on the ground surrounded by animals. "It could be a shepherd who died from the inhalation of gases emitted by the volcano," add those responsible for the file, before specifying that the written document does not indicate "anything about this."

The report of the Court of the Inquisition in the Canary Islands on those thirteen days concludes with this sentence: "The same things continued until January 21, the morning of Santa Ynés." And is that the San Antonio volcano was active for 66 days, a mark that the current erupting volcano has yet to overcome, after having exceeded the time of the most recent eruptions, the two of the 20th century, that of the Teneguía and that of San Juan volcano.

That 17th century volcano covered 650 hectares of land with lava and ash. The one that now keeps La Palma in suspense has already destroyed a thousand hectares in 53 days.


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