A storm that hit parts of Tenerife towards the end of January opened up some serious cracks in the fabric of one of the island’s oldest buildings.
The splendid Iglesia de las Nieves in the northern village of Taganana dates back to 1506, just eight years after the Spanish conquest of the island was completed in 1498.
Structurally, the church is in poor condition, particularly the roof. Since the storm broke in January, the parish priest has had to resort to a system of 50 strategically placed plastic buckets to catch the water that seeps in and drips down from the ceiling.
The noise from the constant dripping does nothing for the quiet dignity of church services.
The priest, Father Vicente Spouy, hopes that by publicising the plight of the little church that he can bring about urgent action.
The church is already recongised as a building of cultural interest and the island authorities have it down on their list of ancient buildings in need of restoration, but Father Spouy fears that the wheels of bureaucracy may grind too slowly in this case.
The longer the water penetrates the fabric of the building the more damage it will do to walls and floors.
It may also threaten an important work of art housed there, a painting of The Adoration of the Magi, which is even older than the church itself.