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San Martin hermitage

We have a historic jewel to assist us in our search for the identity of the town of Bakio: the Cofradia (Confraternity) de San Martin de Tours, thanks to its antiquity, deeply rooted in Biscayan Law, and system of administration in the district of Zubiaur. Although the current Records Book dates from 1915, there are no further details of when the Confraternity was founded, perhaps due to the disappearance of the previous Records Book. To complicate matters, the property registration details also disappeared forever in the bombing of Gernika during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). It is assumed that it was established at a later date than the present Parish Church of Bakio.

Identity characteristics of the Confraternity

Members of the Confraternity are the Basque farmhouses themselves, rather than their owners. Each farmhouse is the owner of its own assets and also of the proportional part in the Cofradia de San Martin.

Traditionally, the Confraternity meets to celebrate the festivity of its patron saint every 11th of November, whilst at the same time drawing up the annual balance of its accounts and administering its assets. Until 1979, every 11th November, following the Holy Mass at the hermitage, the Cofradía would meet in the porch of Goitia House, which was responsible for the hermitage.

According to the Records Book, the Cofradia was formed in 1915 by 35 members, who were:

“Goicolea, Arza (2), Ochategui (2), Ochateguichu, Garay, Garaychu, Torrea, Ardanza (2), Uribarri, Uribarrigoicoa, Echebarrialde, Beascoa, Saituchu, Saituena, Saitua Mayor, Jaureguizar, Goitia, Ugarte, Gabancho, Barturen (2), Lorrea, Amezaga, Ugaldechu, Ugalde, Echebarri, Garategui, Jáuregui, Tabernazar, Zubiaur (2) and Aricheta.”

Five new members joined in 1947: “Iberbide, Errotachu, Musiquena, Echechubarri, and Arteche (northern half)”, totalling 40 members, who are now the owners. The transcription of the names of the farmhouse members is as shown in the Records Book.

The Confraternity is the owner of the Hermitage and of the surrounding land. This land, now barren, was previously auctioned every year from 1916 onwards amongst the members of the Cofradia for use as detailed in the Records Book.

Due to the popularity and increased participation among the residents in the festivity of the Saint, in 1983 the Confraternity welcomed 13 individuals, owners of flats, houses and, in one case, even a tenant. Seeing that this move contravened the spirit of the Confraternity, in 2003 it was decided to reverse this decision and return to the last Record of Minutes, which was over 30 years old (1947), establishing the number of members of the Cofradia at 40.

The Confraternity is working towards becoming incorporated as a legal entity, in compliance with current legislation, as a community property. As a result, a Commission of Confraternity Members will convene an Assembly to constitute the said Community.

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