The house of Terrazas del Sauzal and its extraordinary history
Few houses in the Canary Islands have a history as distinguished as the Terrazas del Sauzal house. The main house was built before 1601 and linked to the Salazar Frías familiy, Counts of the Valley of Salazar. Also, another house within the gardens was the residence of Sor María de Jesús, known locally as ‘little Servant of God’, during her childhood.
The estate of the Counts of the Valley of Salazar
The exact date of construction of the house is unknown, as there are no original records of the house. However, the ownership of the Salazar Frías family, Counts of the Valley of Salazar, is well established. The past of the family is linked to the municipality of El Sauzal, and the Terrazas del Sauzal house, prior to 1601.
According to the article by Alfonso Soriano y Benítez de Lugo (available here), the first reference to the family estate dates back to 1601, with the birth of Ventura Salazar de Frías y Ríos at the estate. Mr Ventura was the son of Cristóbal Salazar de Frías, who began the construtcion of the palace of Salazar, actual Bishopric of the Nivariense Diocese, in 1629. He was also the uncle of Cristóbal Lázaro Salazar de Frías y Espinoza, first Count of the Valley of Salazar, and grandfather of Cristóbal Valentín Salazar de Frías y Abreu, II Count of the Valley of Salazar. The III Count of the Valley of Salazar, Ventura Salazar de Frías y Valcárcel was also born at the El Sauzal family estate in 1714. Finally, deeds to the house reveal the previous owner to be Dominga Chirino y del Hoyo, widow of Juan Antonio Salazar de Frías y Benítez de Lugo, VII Count of the Valley of Salazar.
Family tree of the Salazar de Frías, Counts of the Valley of Salazar
Only family members relevanto to the title of count or to the family estate have been included
Little Servant of God (Siervita de Dios)
Sister María de Jesús León Bello
As well as having a noble origin, the house is notable for being where the Little Servant of God lived till she moved to La Laguna.
The Little Servant of God is in the process of being beatified and canonized. She is credited with several gifts and miracles. Amongst them are levitation, clairvoyance, telekinesis and stigmata, as well as bilocation. This bilocation is the origin of one of the most singular stories involving her and the privateer Amaro Pargo. They both shared a great friendship and Amaro Pargo was witness to one of the Little Servant’s miracles. Whilst Amaro Pargo was in Cuba, the Little Servant appeared to save him from a Turkish pirate, even though she had never left the convent in La Laguna. The devotion of Amaro Pargo towards the Little Servant was so great that he donated the golden sarcophagus where her incorrupt remains lay. He also commissioned the “post-mortem” portrait of her pictured here.
Restoration of the house
The house was completely restored in 1978 by the current owners of the house. It was restored bringing back typical Canarian elements but not changing the facade, walls or partitions. During the restoration emphasis was made on the traditional Canarian architecture, especially balconies, patios and decorative elements, for which local craftsmen were hired.