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Throughout Trinidad, there are numerous religious sites of a variety of faiths reflecting the diversity of the backgrounds of the persons who have made this island their home. We have divided the religious sites geographically to make locating them simpler.



bulletTemple in the Sea
bulletDattatreya Mandir
bulletHanuman Statue
bulletEdinburgh Mandir
bulletFlying Hanuman
bulletFlanagin Town Catholic Church
bulletTortuga Roman Catholic Church
bulletSt Andrews Anglican Church Couva
bulletCharlieville Highway Masjid

Port of Spain

bulletHoly Trinity Cathedral
bulletSt John's Church
bulletHoly Rosary Church
bulletQueen Street Mosque
bulletSt Francis of Assisi - Belmont
bulletSt Margaret's - Belmont
bulletSt Anns Church of Scotland
bullet St Patrick's Roman Catholic Port of Spain
bulletTranquility Methodist Church
bulletAll Saints
bulletSt Ann's Roman Catholic
bulletSacred Heart
bulletPort of Spain Hindu Mandir
bulletGokool Meah Mosque
bulletOur Lady of Lourdes

North West

bulletNotre Dame De La Mer
bulletSt Chad's Anglican Church
bulletDiego Martin SWAHA Temple and Hanuman Statue


bulletCatholic Church, St. Joseph
bulletSt Joseph Cross
bulletSt Michael's Catholic Church
bulletJinnah Memorial Mosque
bulletMount St. Benedict
bulletSt Mary's Anglican Church
bulletSanta Rosa
bulletMorton Memorial Presbyterian Church Guaico
bulletMary Magdalene Manzanilla

North East

bulletCatholic Church, Mission Toco


bulletHarris Promenade RC Church
bulletKrishna Mandir
bulletReform Village Mandir
bullet St Peter's Catholic Church, Pointe-a-Pierre

South East

bulletTriveni Mandir
bulletSt Stephen's Anglican Church
bulletGran Chemin Catholic Church
bulletMount Elvin Baptist Church
bulletTableland Hindu Mandir
bulletSt Theresa's Roman Catholic
bulletCatholic Church, Mayaro

South West

bulletSt Francis of Assisi - Erin
bulletIcacos Mosque and Hosay
bulletSiparia - La Divina Pastora
bulletThe Other La Divina Pastora





Temple in the Sea

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The temple in the sea is the culmination of the vision of one man. Returning from India during World War Two he had a narrow escape from a German torpedo and vowed to build a temple to thank God for his escape.  Siewdass Sadhu repeated sought to erect a temple on sugar cane land and was prevented from doing so. In fact he completed construction of a small temple on land but the estate owners broke it down. Eventually in 1947 he began construction of the temple on land that he reclaimed from the sea, doing the reclamation  by personally carrying the rocks by hand. In all Siewdass Sadhu spent 25 years building it in the sea. Unfortunately the effect of sea erosion prevented Sadhu from ever completing the structure and he died in 1971 with the structure incomplete. In 1994, the government created a more permanent artificial island and finished the temple to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day.

The temple is located at the end of the Orange Field Road in Waterloo.



Dattatreya Mandir

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Located at Orange Field Road, Carapachaima, this place of worship is dedicated to Dattatreya, the Hindu trinity. Admission to the complex is free and it is open from 6 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8 pm Monday to Friday; and from 6 am to 12 noon and 4 pm to 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday. On its pink exterior walls are numerous small statues carved into the walls, while inside are several murties.

The structure, which took two years to complete, was built according to the Dravidian style of architecture which flourished in India between the 12th and 14th century. Fourteen stonemasons were specially flown in from India and worked alongside local artisans in order to create the filigree ornaments and the life-sized elephant statues on the entrances of the meditation centre. Inside the main mandir are smaller mandirs dedicated to Dattatreys, Lord Shiva and the Mother Goddess.

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The inner roof of the entrance foyer has exquisite paintings and statuettes. Photography is permitted on the outside but not allowed inside. Visitors are expected to show reverence by removing their shoes before walking inside. Cold drinks and snacks are on sale.


Hanuman Statue

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This 85 foot statue is reputed to be the largest such statue outside of India and was consecrated in 2003. It is on the grounds of the Dattatreya Yoga Center and Mandir at Orange Field Road, Carapachaima. Inside the Hanuman murti there is a smaller Hanuman murti.

Hannuman was the best warrior and he protected the gods from evil powers. He stands for faith, friendship, strength and the willingness to make sacrifices. The significance of the height is to symbolise that all devotees should grow in height spiritually.

There is another larger than life Hanuman murti on the grounds of the Diego Martin SWAHA temple.

Confluence Magazine has an article about other Special Sacred Hindu Places in Trinidad

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St Andrew’s Anglican Church – Couva

Before the extension of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway to San Fernando in the 1970's, everyone who drove the route between San Fernando and Port of Spain along the Southern Main Road had to pass through Couva and at the western end of Couva there was a 90 degree turn with a beautiful church facing you. That church, which still stands, is St Andrew's Anglican.

In the 1800's Couva was a rich sugar district in Trinidad and as was typical of the time the owners and managers of the estates were either English or Scottish. Most of these individuals were not Roman Catholics as persons holding that religious persuasion at the time were generally of French or Spanish extraction. Wanting to have their own place of worship these planters arranged for the construction of a small wooden church which was dedicated to St Andrew. As the Couva district grew with Estates such as Exchange, Perseverance, Brechin Castle and Camden,  there was need for the church to be enlarged and so in 1844, the church was expanded. By 1883 however the wooden church had become termite riddled and with the further expansion of Couva with the railway reaching Couva in 1880, there was need for expansion and replacement, so under the direction of Rev. H.M Skinner, it was rebuilt and designed to accommodate 300 persons. The new church was built using cedar with stained glass windows by Wailes and Strong of Newcastle. This church lasted until 2000 when it was necessary to replace the building.

This latest version of the church can play tricks with the eyes because it looks like a wooden church. In fact, almost as if giving respect to the predecessor buildings, the church when rebuilt was done to capture the look of the previous church so that the concrete walls have been given the appearance of lumber. Even the interior of the church retains the look of the earlier church. With the tall palm trees swaying in the breeze and framing the church, the tower fronting the church with its Norman style battlements and the graves of the cemetery almost ringing the churchyard it truly makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Adorning the tower and visible as you approach is a large metal sculpture of Jesus, while within the cemetery are many interesting graves from the 1800s and 1900s.



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The Charlieville Highway Mosque, lying alongside the Uriah Butler Highway on the outskirts of Chaguanas is a beautiful building that allows us to see many aspects of Islamic architecture.

The term mosque derives from the Arabic word "masjid" which means prostration and prostration forms a significant part of Islam. The Koran requires that the ritual of prayer (salat) be performed five times a day. Prayer can be done anywhere but must be done in a congregation on a Friday. Salat consists of recitations from the Koran accompanied by a series of movements – standing, bowing, sitting, kneeling and prostrating. Because of the movements, the interior of mosques is usually empty with little or no chairs. The floor covering is almost always carpets which serve to deaden the sound of footsteps and so preserve an atmosphere of quiet while enhancing the beauty of the interior. The walls within the mosque have few items, except for possibly Arabic calligraphy, so Muslims in prayer are not distracted.

The prophet Mohammad ordered his followers to mount the highest roof in their neighbourhood and call the faithful to their devotions. As a result of this invocation, the minaret evolved, from which the call to prayer (adhan) could be given by the muezzin. On the roof of the masjid can be seen to minarets on either side.

In Islam, the dome signifies heaven and the central feature of the roof is the large dome. The popular Muslim conception of Paradise is that it is divided into several celestial levels, awarded according to the degree of righteousness achieved during one's mortal lifetime. The first heaven is the one that is closest to the earth. So the order begins from the earth and the highest heaven is the seventh heaven. Further according to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ascended into the seven heavens during his lifetime in Jerusalem, either physically or spiritually, and came into direct contact with the divine. On the roof of this mosque, one will note that there are seven domes.

On the front of the building, in the centre, can be seen a niche in the wall, which is the mihrab. The mihrab always points to the east, the direction of Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet. This niche is an important acoustic feature for the interior of the mosque as it allows the voice of the imam to resonate within the mosque.


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Holy Trinity Cathedral

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The first Anglican Church, known simply as the Trinity Church, was a modest wooden building on the corner of Prince and Frederick streets. In 1808, a great fire swept through the city, destroying every public building, including the church. In 1809 the British Crown granted money for the construction of a new church. The construction was started in Brunswick Square (now Woodford Square but there were objections from the public resulting in a halt to the construction.

On May 30, 1816, the cornerstone of the Trinity Cathedral was laid in its current location on 30A Abercromby Street, Port of Spain. Architecturally, the Cathedral reflects the late Georgian style mixed with Gothic, as well as elements of the Victorian age. The layout was designed by the Colonial Secretary, Philip Reinagle. The magnificent hammer-beam roof is made of local wood and characterized by huge trusses. The altar is built entirely of selected local mahogany and backed by alabaster and marble mounted on a base of Portland stone. The stained glass windows showcase magnificent representations of the saints. The Cathedral is filled with interesting historical items such as the marble statue dedicated to former Governor and founder of the Church, Sir Ralph Woodford. Along the walls inside the Cathedral are Tablets placed "in the memory of" former members of the British elite of colonial days.

There are tours of the Cathedral, on Tuesdays and Thursdays which cost $10, and begin   at 8.30 am and 1.30 pm.


St John's Church

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St John's London Baptist Church is located at 8 Pembroke Street in Port of Spain, next to the Port of Spain City Hall. London Baptists first came to Trinidad at the end of the American War of Independence with the negro soldiers who were transported to Trinidad in 1815 in exchange for helping the British in the war.

The cornerstone of the church was laid in 1853 and the church opened for worship in March 1854. In 1882 the church was enlarged. The original Manse built in 1845 still stands and is now the church office.

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Holy Rosary Church

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Construction of the Holy Rosary Church began in 1892. The design of the church is in the Gothic revival style. Its vaulted ceilings in the main aisle and the lower ceilings of the side aisles form the shape of a cross. The stained glass lancet windows came from Toulouse, France and the stone blocks for the exterior of the building came are blue limestone from the Laventille quarries.

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In 1829 Abbé Francis de Ridder purchased land that the church and schools currently stand on. He was a free coloured priest in Trinidad at a time when the first civil governor, Sir Ralph Woodford, had been imposing restrictions upon the coloured population. His work and independence challenged the colonial establishment. In the political struggle for justice that ensued, the site of the Holy Rosary Church was the free coloured headquarters in Port-of-Spain.

The Holy Rosary Church was considered the last French enclave in a predominately British Port-of-Spain. Because Trinidad was a British Crown Colony, french culture was being systematically dismantled. The finance for building came directly from the mainly french creole parishioners and as a result the progress of the project depended entirely on their fortunes. It took almost fifty years of hard work for this beautiful building to be completed and blessed in 1939, plus a further forty years for it to be consecrated in 1980.


Queen Street Mosque

The Queen Street Mosque is of interest not only because it represents an example of Islamic building style but also because it also represents an example of inter-religious generosity along with the drive of an individual to have a suitable place for individuals to practice their faith.

Haji Ruknaddeen at the age of 20 came to Trinidad in 1893 as an indentured laborer from Punjab in India and was assigned to the La Romain estate. At the end of his indentureship he moved to Tunapuna and operated as a tailor. His knowledge of Islam and his knowledge of Arabic, Urdu and Persian led to his being recognized as a cleric and a leader among Trinidad Muslims. Together with Al Haj Maulana Shah Mohammed Hassan, he formed in 1933 the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA) which is the largest and best known Islamic organization in Trinidad and Tobago. They decided that ASJA needed a headquarters and that there was also need for a suitable place of worship in Port of Spain.

Haji John Mohammed donated a large parcel of land on the west of the Dry River (St Ann's River). Mohammed Ibrahim who had owned M.I. Baking Company, had sold the company to Coehlo and Company and said that he would use the money from the sale for the building of a mosque. Unfortunately in the middle of the land was a parcel of land that was owned by one of the leaders of the Syrian-Lebanese community, Abdou Sabga, and he refused to sell the land. Mohammed Ibrahim repeatedly tried to buy the land and Abdou Sabga repeatedly refused to sell. Eventually Mohammed Ibrahim gave Sabga a blank cheque and told him to fill in whatever amount he wanted for the land. After some time, when Ibrahim had not heard from Sabga he went to visit him to inquire how much he had written on the cheque. In front of Ibrahim, Sabga tore up the cheque and told him that if the land was to be used to construct a house of worship to God them he would give the land for free.

Thus with all the property obtained, construction of the mosque started with the work being supervised by Ibrahim. The building was completed in 1942 and opened by the then Governor, Sir Bede Clifford. One of the interesting features of the mosque is the various domes that adorn the structure. The domes differ in shape and size and according to Father Anthony de Verteuil some resemble the domes of India, others the domes of Arabia and others the onion-shaped domes of Russia.




Belmont is a suburb of Port of Spain lying on the eastern side of the city at the foot of the Laventille Hills. It is an area known for narrow streets and winding lanes with houses sitting close together. Belmont's development really began in the 1840's and 1850's when the British Royal Navy started stopping illegal slave ships and rescuing the captured Africans who were on these ships. These rescued Africans then began settling in Belmont which was at the time was on the outskirts of the city's boundary. In the 1880's and 1890's the population of Belmont increased significantly as the black professional class began to build large homes in the area. Many of these homes survive to the present either as residences or business places and Belmont is one area in Trinidad where it is easy to see the varied architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th century. Two of the buildings that reflect the architectural styles of that period are the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and the St Margaret's Anglican Church, both of which are located on Belmont Circular Road.

St Margaret's Anglican Church

In 1856 Charles Warner donated two lots of land on Belmont Circular Road to the Anglican Church for the construction of a church and school. In 1860 four lots next to the site were purchased by the church. The original building was a wooden church and in 1890 the foundation stone for a brick church was laid with construction being completed by December 1891. St Margaret's is a pretty stone church with its tall steeple and the headstones of the graves crowding around the church on three sides. Thanks to the foresight of the early church members in acquiring the additional land, the church is set back from the road. Within the church there is a magnificent stained glass window representing Margaret of Antioch that was installed in 1906. In the 1980's two new stained glass windows were added on either side of the main window. These new windows were done by the Trinidadian stained glass artist Mike Watson and show children of every race singing the praises of God, Yoruba drummers invoking Him, an African man offering a bunch of bananas and an Indian woman picking a hibiscus flower.

St Francis of Assisi - Belmont

St Francis of Assisi in Belmont is another of Trinidad's beautiful church buildings and is one of two Catholic churches in Trinidad that was named after St Francis. The other St Francis of Assisi church is located in Erin. The Belmont church is constructed of local limestone, most likely from the quarries that operated in Laventille. In 1865 a church and school were constructed on the site but with the expanding population of Belmont at the turn of the century it was decided to construct a new church. Thus in 1902 construction of the present church was completed. In addition to the limestone walls the interior pillars are of granite from Aberdeen Scotland.


St Patrick’s RC Church – Port of Spain


Sandwiched between Newtown Boys RC School and Newtown Girls RC School on Maraval Road in Port of Spain and set back from the road lies St Patrick's RC Church. As the name suggests this church is dedicated to St Patrick the patron saint of Ireland, who when he was about 16, was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Great Britain, and taken as a slave to Ireland, looking after animals, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. It is said that during his time as a slave his faith in God developed and while back at home with his family he had a vision that urged him to return to Ireland. He returned to northern and western Ireland and served as an ordained bishop, converting many persons to Christianity. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

The fact that this church is dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland can partially lie with the fact that the first priest for this parish was Irish, Fr Taafe and another Irish priest, Fr Lynch, was also involved in the construction of the church. In 1856, the parish was established with a small wooden structure as the church and then in 1858 the foundation stone of the present church was laid. The building was completed in 1902 and consecrated by Archbishop Vincent Flood.

As is typical of many of the churches of that time period, the church was constructed using stone from the Laventille Quarry and red bricks imported from England. The tabernacle with its emblazoned door was built in Dublin, Ireland by Messer’s Smyth and Sons. St Patrick's is recorded as having the first pipe organ in a church in Trinidad, which was built in March 1911 by English firm of Walker and Sons and the organ is now over 100 years old. The tabernacle with its emblazoned door was built in Dublin, Ireland by Messer’s Smyth and Sons. In keeping with its dedication to St Patrick, a larger than life statue of the saint stands is a niche above the front entrance door. In 2014, the church was renovated with a new roof installed and the louvre windows replaced by stained glass windows.



Tranquility Methodist Church

Tranquility Methodist Church is located on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Tragarete Road in Port of Spain. This church is part of the National Trust of historic buildings. In 1796 the first Methodists came to Trinidad as Wesleyan missionaries. They established a church in Port of Spain using rented premises. The church members however wanted a building of their own and so in 1870 they acquired the land on which the church presently sits. After much saving the foundation stone of the church was laid in 1886 with the church being completed in April 1886. Then in January 1906, cornerstone of the present building was laid. This church has survived an earthquake in 1954 and a fire in 1984 and continues to be a place of comfort for the weary soul.

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Stone Churches

Trinidad is not usually thought of as an island with significant limestone but yet there are large limestone beds. The Northern Range of Trinidad has extensive beds of limestone known as the Maraval formation that run through the the entire range from Diego Martin to Toco. These limestone beds cause the flat areas in many of the Northern Range valleys. Many of the early churches in the Port of Spain area were constructed using limestone with much of the limestone coming from quarries in Laventille.

Laventille is located on the eastern side of Port of Spain and the name reflects the French influence on Trinidad. The northeast trade winds come over the Laventille hills and then onto Port of Spain. The name was therefore given to the area because it was considered The Vent (La Ventaille) through which the winds blew. The Laventille area had several quarries, with two of these being the Eastern Quarry and Jeremy Quarry that are situated on Picton Hill to the east and west of Fort Picton respectively.  Another quarry in the area was called the Piccadilly Quarry. Due to the close proximity of Laventille to Port of Spain, the stone from these quarries was widely used for construction.

In addition to the Laventille limestone, ballast bricks were often used especially for outlining the windows. The huge sailing ships that came from Europe while bringing manufactured goods could not completely fill their holds with goods because of the small size of the island's population and so filled their hulls with the bricks to be used as ballast. In sailboats ballast is used to help the boat resist the lateral forces on the sail as insufficiently ballasted boats will tend to tip, or heel, excessively in high winds and too much heel may result in the boat capsizing. Once the ships arrived in Trinidad the ballast bricks were unloaded and used for local building needs while the ships took the locally produced rum, sugar, cocoa, cotton back to Europe. To hold the rocks and bricks together, the cement was often a mortar made from sand, limestone and molasses.

Some of the churches that were constructed using Laventille limestone are St Ann's Church of Scotland, All Saints, Sacred Heart and St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church.


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The initial spanish settlers of Trinidad were all of the Catholic faith. When the Cedula de Populacion, which allowed French settlers into Trinidad, was introduced in 1783, one of the conditions for entry was that the immigrant had to be Catholic. As such when the British captured Trinidad in 1797, the majority of the population was non-english speaking. In order to cater for English speaking Catholics, Sacred Heart Church was constructed in 1882.

This church which is located on the corner of Richmond Street and Sackville Street in Port of Spain was constructed using limestone from the Laventille Quarries. Many aspects of it design give the impression of a medieval fort with towers and battlements. The Photo Gallery has additional pictures that show these features.


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The St Ann's Roman Catholic Church is another of the stone churches of Trinidad. Located in the suburb of St Ann's on St Ann's Avenue (just after the Chinese Association building), it was constructed in 1861.


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On first hearing the name, The St. Ann's Church of Scotland, many persons would think that this church is located in the suburb of Port of Spain now called St Ann's. In fact this church is located on the corner of Charlotte Street and Oxford Street in Port of Spain. The  church derived its name because in 1854 when the church was built, Charlotte Street was called Rue St. Anns (St Ann's Road).

This church was created by Portuguese Presbyterian immigrants who fled from Catholic religious persecution in Madeira and arrived in Trinidad on 16th of September 1846. In Madeira the Catholics had burned their schools and destroyed their vineyards. As a result of the violence against them, these Presbyterians had been almost forced to run to the harbour, where there happened to be ships that had come for other Portuguese immigrants to Trinidad and St Vincent. The first group was 197 persons and in all approximately 600 Portuguese Presbyterians came to Trinidad. Many of these first Portuguese Presbyterian immigrants were destitute when they arrived in Trinidad as a result of the haste with which they left Madeira. Unfortunately they were snubbed by the other Madeirans in Trinidad who were Catholic. They were assisted by Greyfriars Church on Frederick Street and St John's Baptist Church in Port-of-Spain. In 1854 under the leadership of Reverend Henrique Vieira they constructed their own church. In 1894, the church was enlarged using Laventille limestone and ballast bricks. over the years the church has been known by several names, The Portuguese Church, the United Free Church and the United Kirk.


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Built during 1844 and 1846 of Laventille stone with ballast bricks outlining the doors and windows, All Saints Church is on the western side of the Queens Park Savannah at the corner of Marli Street immediately after Boissiere House. It was enlarged in 1884. Within this Anglican Church are three beautiful stained glass windows and a hand carved Episcopal chair.


Port of Spain Hindu Mandir

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The Port-of-Spain Hindu Mandir also known as Paschim Kaashi (Benares of the West) is situated on Ethel Street in St. James. Within its walls are the most beautiful murtis (idols) imported from India made especially for the Mandir. A manicured garden exists to provide the fresh flowers used for worship and it contains trees that have been sacred to Hindus for thousands of years. At the back of the Mandir there is a cultural centre containing classrooms where dance, music, craft and Hindi are taught.

The Mandir is open to all visitors. The main Mandir is open for worship on Sundays at 8:00 am and 6:00pm and other visits may be made during the week by telephoning the caretaker at 868-622- 4949. Visits by tour groups must be arranged in advance.

In the 19th century St. James was a sugar cane farming area peopled by indentured Indian immigrants. It was their dream to erect a structure of which they could be proud. This took place in 1958 when construction began of Port of Spain's first Hindu Mandir or temple. All the major Hindu families living in St. James in the early fifties became actively involved. Many prominent members of the Port of Spain Hindu community assisted in this construction effort. The fund raising effort for the construction was started and led by Mr. Jang Bahadoorsingh, a Port of Spain businessman, and assisted by Mr. Simbhoonath Capildeo as legal advisor.

Local architect John Newel Lewis designed the original structure utilizing Trinidad architectural concepts of a city temple making the Mandir uniquely Trinidadian Hindu and not a Mandir of India. Within the compound there is a Kali Mandir that again reflects a Trinidadian approach in that the architect was Chinese, the builder Muslim and the craftsmen African and Indian. Inside can be seen the inspired work of Ken Morris.

Although the Mandir was initially opened in 1962 expansion of the temple complex continued into the 1970's led by the efforts of Mr. Simbhoonath Capildeo.

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Our Lady of Lourdes

Sitting on a hillock overlooking the bustling intersection on the Maraval Saddle Road, that can lead one into the hills of Paramin or over the mountain through La Paille village to the valley of Diego Martin or northwards to Maracas and the north coast or north east to the valley of Santa Cruz, lies a Catholic Church that can trace its roots back to 1846. This is the church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

 Originally built as a tapia and thatch roofed building, it was replaced by a wooden church in 1856 but a fire in 1860 destroyed that building. However by 1861 a new church was started but 12 years later it had not been finished. Enter Father Emmanuel Alvarez who had been born in Caracas Venezuela. He immediately started work on completing the church and on July 16th 1882 it was consecrated by the Archbishop.  It has been written by Father Anthony De Verteuil that Father Alvarez installed a dial on the tower of the church so that parishioners would come to service on time.  In 1926, the church was enlarged and the facade that we see today was built.

The Church when built was called The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary but today is known as Our Lady of Lourdes. The change of name and the role that this church plays in the devotion to the appearance of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in the south of France during 1858 - 1859 known as the Lady of Lourdes is also due to Father Alvarez. 

Father De Verteuil says that in 1883 the church had a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and in 1903 Father Alvarez began to build a grotto at the back of the church. The miracles related to the healing of the sick at the village of Lourdes in France drew people to this grotto in Trinidad and in time the space became too small for the numbers that came. Thus in November 1953 the original grotto was destroyed and then the members of the church began building a new one.  According to Father De Verteuil, in his book Temples of Trinidad, for 5 weeks they worked piling stone upon stone without using any mortar to build a new grotto, so that by February 1954 the grotto was complete and ready to be blessed. On February 21st 1954 the blessing of the grotto was done by Archbishop Finbar Ryan with hundreds of persons attending the ceremony.

Such is the continued devotion to the Virgin Mary and the continuance of persons making pilgrimages to the shrine at Maraval that in 1967, the church was officially renamed our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. 



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Most of the middle aged and older persons in Trinidad will be familiar with the phrase "as cool as Gookool", though many may not know what gave rise to the phrase. In 1853, a six year old boy called Modhoo came to Trinidad from Kashmir as the son of indentured laborers, however within 3 months of arrival his mother died of malaria and he was adopted by a Hindu family who gave him the name Gookool. When he was older he was indentured at the Concord Estate in Pointe-à-Pierre. After his indentureship he purchased a donkey cart and made a living hauling sugar cane to the factory at Usine Saint Madeline. After a few years he sold his cart and established a shop in Danglade Village on the road to San Fernando. Next he went into cocoa cultivation, establishing one of the early cocoa plantations in the Diego Martin valley. From cocoa he moved on the real estate, becoming one of the major landlords in Port of Spain. He also established himself as a cinema magnate, opening the Metro cinema in Port of Spain which he later renamed the Globe Cinema and eventually operating a string of five cinemas in Port of Spain and San Fernando. The phrase "cool as Gookool" arose because in the face of the racial prejudice that existed in Trinidad at the time, Gookool conducted his business with an icy calm.

With his icy calm and business acumen, Gookool eventually became a millionaire. Throughout his life, Gookool Meah maintained his devotion to the Muslim faith and in 1922, he made the pilgrimage to Mecca which gave him the title Haji (one who has made the Haj). In 1927, Haji Gookool Meah decided to build a mosque and constructed the mosque that exists on the southern side of the Western Main Road in St James. Upon his death at the age of 92, Haji Gookool Meah left most of his money (over one million dollars) in a trust fund for the poor and to to maintain the mosque which had been named after him. That trust fund which is managed by a bank, continues to this day to maintain the mosque and also to provide for the poor, the needy and for education.


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Notre Dame de La Mer

Many persons rushing through the village of Carenage on their way to and from Chaguaramas, never notice the little chapel that juts into the sea at St Peters Bay. This chapel, the entrance to which is located opposite School Street and next to the gas station, has existed since 1876. Constructed by the people of Carenage under the direction of their parish priest, Abbe Poujade, the Our Lady of the Sea chapel was at the request of the local fishermen who wanted spiritual protection. The building is made of stone which the fishermen collected from nearby bays and transported in their boats to the site.

On the seaward side of the chapel is a large statue of St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. It is doubly symbolic that this statue is placed at this point because in the 1870's the particular piece of land was merely a rock jutting into the sea at which fishermen tied their boats.   The symbolism arises because of the words of Christ who in referring to Peter said, "on this rock I will build my church".

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After it was first constructed, the chapel which has come to be known as St Peter's chapel was used often with a regular mass. In particular it was used for the blessing of the boats at the annual St Peter's Day festival held on the first Sunday after the 29th of June. Over the years its use declined and the chapel fell into disrepair. In July 2007, the chapel was restored and blessed by Archbishop Edward Gilbert.

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The little chapel is now only used on special occasions. The area around the chapel is however used by persons seeking spiritual blessings as can be seen by the numerous burnt candles on the sea walls. The bay in which the chapel sits is a popular location for baptisms by the Spiritual (Shouter) Baptists.

For a close view of St Peter's statue visit the Photo Gallery

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On the Macqueripe Road in Chaguaramas can be seen the remains of St Chad's Anglican Church. In 1850, Daniel Cave who was the owner of Mount Pleasant Estate, donated 22,800 square feet of land to the Anglican Church for the construction of a church. The church was named after Saint Chad who was an English saint. The original church that was constructed in 1850 was made of wood but after 18 years it fell into a state of disrepair and had to be demolished. The Church members requested a new church and with the help of Daniel Cave a new church was finished in 1875. Unfortunately by 1915 this church was again in a state of decay. Agnes Tucker, who was the wife of the owner of the majority of estates in Chaguaramas, then pushed for the construction of a new church. By the end of 1915, with the help of the people of Mount Pleasant Village (which was created by the former slaves after Emancipation who settled on the lands of Mount Pleasant Estate) and the estate workers a new church was constructed. This church remained in use until the US Army was given Chaguaramas for use as a military base.

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When St Chad's church was constructed it lay between the grocery and the school. The grocery (though no longer operational) still appears in good condition because of the refurbishing that was done when Mount Pleasant Village was used in 2001 to film some of the scenes for the movie, The Mystic Masseur. Within the church's cemetery can still be seen several graves. The most prominent grave belongs to Amelia Tripp who was the daughter of William Tucker and married his business partner, Edgar Tripp. Mr. Edgar Tripp was the man who installed the first electricity generating plant in Trinidad. Amelia died in 1877 at the age of 24 and there are those who say that on a dark night she roams the roadway but no one has been able to prove it.

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At the northern end of the Diego Martin valley, along St Lucien Road immediately before its intersection with the Diego Martin Main Road, is the SWAHA temple. Gracing the entrance to the temple is an imposing 25 foot Hanuman murti. While not as large as the Hanuman statue at the Dattatreya Yoga Center and Mandir at Orange Field Road, Carapachaima, this murti captures your attention as you drive by or enter the grounds of the temple.

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Viewing this Hanuman murti provides a nice addition to a trip to this part of Diego Martin, with the River Estate Museum nearby and the North Post signal station a short distance away.


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St Joseph Catholic Church

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Construction of the present Catholic Church in St. Joseph commenced in 1815 and was completed in 1816. When St Joseph was founded in 1592, one of the first buildings constructed was a Catholic Church. That church was destroyed in a raid in 1595 by Walther Raleigh but another church was rebuilt on the same spot. In 1649, the church was again destroyed in a Dutch raid and again rebuilt on the same spot. In 1815 the wooden church was replaced by the existing structure which used brick and stone with the stones and sand being taken from the St Joseph River which runs behind the church. Thus the present church stands on the same location as the original church in the founding of the town in 1592. More information on St. Joseph can be found on our Other Places of Interest page.

The St Joseph Catholic Church previously held the bodies of three priests who were killed in the Arena Massacre in 1699 and considered holy martyrs. The priests had been buried in Arena however sixteen months after burial the bodies of the priests were dug up from the graves at Arena and transferred to St Joseph Catholic Church. In what was considered a miracle, it is said that the bodies were still intact and had not decomposed. In 1989 the burial spot at the St Joseph church was excavated and the remains transferred to the Catholic Church at San Rafael.

On the grounds of the Church in the grave yard lies the oldest recorded grave in Trinidad. The grave is that of Dona Isabella Fermin De Prado de Villegas who died in 1682 and whose family was among the oldest in Trinidad coming with the first Spanish settlers to Trinidad.


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St Joseph Cross

In countries with a strong Catholic influence, the celebration of the Stations of the Cross is especially common on the Fridays of Lent, and recreates Christ's journey to his crucifixion. In Trinidad and Tobago the most common time to witness the walking of the Stations of the Cross is on Good Friday when large numbers of individuals make the pilgrimage. The stations of the cross are usually small concrete crosses painted in white, symbolizing the moments of Christ suffering on his way to his crucifixion. These church celebrations are usually accompanied by various songs and prayers. Several areas of Trinidad have stations of the cross including Arima, Mount St Benedict and Lopinot.
In St Joseph, the first capital of Trinidad, with its early Catholic influence and first church built in Trinidad by Don Antonio de Berrio y Oruna, there is a Calvary Hill with the Stations of the Cross consisting of the usual small white concrete crosses starting at the foot of the hill. These crosses lead up the hill and at the top there is a huge silver cross which was donated and erected in September 1892 by Emilio Gonzalez. This cross is an impressive work of art. The cross is actually composed of multiple figures and objects sculpted into the frame. Among the elements that make up the cross are Grapes, Angels, Mary and the Baby Jesus.

The cross is located on Albert Street just off Abercromby Street. The site of the cross has a commanding view of the central plains of Trinidad.


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Set on a wide flat plain looking up at the rich green hills of the Maracas valley lies St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church. With its tall steeple standing out as a counterpoint to the luxuriant dark green hills this church dominates the landscape. From the beginning of its settlement, this valley was home to numerous agricultural estates. In the 19th century, cocoa and coffee came to be the main crops and even today in this section of the valley cocoa and coffee are still abundant. In 1870 on the site of the present church, the mainly Spanish settlers from Venezuela built a church using wood from the nearby slopes of El Tucuche. By 1890, this church had to be rebuilt and construction was begun on the present stone and mortar church. By 1900 the church was completed and the largest church bell in Trinidad installed in the steeple.


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Jinnah Memorial Mosque

The Jinnah Memorial Mosque sits majestically on the Eastern Main Road at the entrance to St Joseph and on the outskirts of Curepe. It is probably the most beautiful of Trinidad's traditional mosques. The roof with its towers topped with spires and the green topped domes with star and crescent immediately draws the eye. The Main dome of the mosque is forty feet in diameter and twenty four feet high, located in the centre of the building surrounded and crowned by the crescent and star. Four half-domes form a cluster around the main dome, with a door to each, allowing onlookers to enter and view the interior of the great dome and the ground floor below. Six smaller narrow domes capped in green and with needle-like spires stand at the angles of the hexagonal structure. Set on spacious grounds this mosque seems to fit perfectly in its surroundings.

Construction of the Jinnah Memorial Mosque was completed in 1954 and it was named after the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-I-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It was opened on Sunday April 25th 1954 by the Governor, Sir Hubert Rance.

As beautiful as it looks now, the construction of this mosque is a tale of hard work, sacrifice and determination. The mosque is owned by the Trinidad Muslim League which was created by three individuals, Moulvi Ameer Ali, Mohammed Hakeem Khan and Mohammed Rafeeq, who founded the League on the 15th of August, 1947, the same day that Pakistan was created. On the 21st of April, 1950, the Trinidad Muslim League was incorporated by Act of Parliament as Number 26 of 1950 to represent the Ghair-Mukallid or Non-Conformist Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago. The league then began to plan the construction of the mosque and had designs created by the architects, Mence and Moore. The cost was estimated at thirty-five thousand dollars, however they did not have sufficient money. As a result they organized a series of fund raisers involving cinema shows, excursions, tea parties, Eid collections, bazaars. At one of the Bazaars they introduced "the Money Tree" at the entrance of the gate, where every member who passed through the gate contributed their share. Even with these activities there were not sufficient funds to complete the mosque as the construction costs had increased, rising to one hundred and twenty five thousand dollars. In a request for more funds for the construction, the Ladies of the League shed their gold necklaces, earrings, and rings and gave them to the mosque to enable the construction to be completed.


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Mount St. Benedict

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Mount St. Benedict is located 800 feet above sea level and a sense of calm descends as you ascend until upon reaching the Abbey, peace seems to fill your being. Founded in 1912 by monks fleeing religious persecution in Brazil, the monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the title Our Lady of Exile. The monastery had very humble beginnings and expanded over the years. In 1943 the Monastery began a seminary  to prepare young men for the diocesan priesthood. In that same year the Monastery established a Secondary School. In 1967, a Vocational School was established  to teach young people a skill such as woodwork, bookbinding, plumbing, welding or other technical craft.

The Abbey is located in the Northern Range above the suburb of St. Augustine and provides a panoramic view of the Central Plains. The Abbey welcomes persons of all faiths who visit to worship or simply absorb the serenity of the surroundings. There is a small gift shop and cafeteria where items produced by the monks, such as yogurt, honey, jams, jellies, bread and coffee, are sold.

In 1916, the Monastery opened Pax Guest House, which is still functional today and receives bird watchers from around the world. The Abbey sits on a 600 acre private reserve where the slopes are covered with lush lowland forest. There are various trails through the forest that are favored for birdwatching as a variety of species can be seen that include hawks, pigeons, hummingbirds, orioles, mockingbirds. A colony of Oilbirds nests in a cave on the property.

To get to Mount St. Benedict from Piarco International Airport, proceed west on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway (towards Port of Spain). Turn right into Macoya Road, then left (west) onto the Eastern Main Road. At the intersection of the Eastern Main Road and St Johns Road (Scotia Bank is at the corner) turn right onto St. John's Road. Follow St John's Road up the hill in a northerly direction until the signs for the entrance to the Abbey. Turn left at the entrance and follow the road to the Abbey. For those travelling from Port of Spain or areas in the South, along the Eastern Main Road, St John's Road will be on the left.

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It is not often that we see wooden buildings in Trinidad, with the apparent public preference for concrete and steel. Yet there is a beautiful small wooden church on the Eastern Main Road on the outskirts of Sangre Grande in Guaico in the area known as Damarie Hill. Although given the name "Hill" the area is not really a hill but more of a rise in the road. According to a Trinidad Guardian 1999 article, immigrants from other West Indian islands, particularly St Vincent and Dominica, migrated to Guaico and brought with them their custom of giving elevated places where they lived the name "Hill," and so the name Damarie Hill.

The Morton Memorial Presbyterian Church was established in 1898 by Dr John Morton. Reverend John Morton, a Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, Canada, came to Trinidad to recuperate from illness. During his stay, he visited sugar estates and seeing the East Indian Community about 20,000,  in a state of neglect, he returned to Canada and asked his Church to initiate a mission to these people. He offered himself as the pioneer of such a mission. The Canadian Church accepted the challenge. On January 6th, 1868, Reverend Morton, his wife and infant daughter arrived in Trinidad. Morton then began the work of developing the Presbyterian Church in Trinidad, focusing on the Indian indentured laborers in Trinidad. The first mission was at Iere Village on the western outskirts of Princes Town and in time spread throughout Trinidad.

The church at Guaico was built in 1898 and a Primary School was also established.   William Hugh Benjamin from Scotland who had a bakery in Guaico assisted Dr. John Morton, with the lumber to erect the Morton Memorial Presbyterian Church and the Guaico Presbyterian School.

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St Mary’s Anglican Church

Anyone passing through Tacarigua in Trinidad along the Eastern Main Road cannot help but observe St Mary's Anglican Church with its distinctive steeple at the intersection of Orange Grove Road and the Eastern Main Road and opposite Eddie Hart Grounds. This building is reminiscent of the style of church building often seen in Barbados and this may not be coincidental as in the early years of Trinidad' s English colonization the Anglican Church in Trinidad fell under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in Barbados and many of the West Indian born reverends did their theological studies at Codrington College in Barbados so some of the churches resemble many of Barbados Anglican Churches .



In 1826 Reverends J.H. Keston and John Pinder established a missionary outpost in the Police Station in the village of Tacarigua and there performed baptisms, marriages and burials plus other church services. By 1841 plans were created for the establishment of a permanent church building. The creation of the church building was made possible by the donation of 6 acres of land by the wealthy planter – William H. Burnley, owner of the Orange Grove Estate and by contributions from ex-slaves and other planters. An interesting feature of the donations was that although this was to be an Anglican church many Roman Catholics contributed to its construction. The foundation stone was laid in 1842 and construction started and completed in the same year under Reverend I. Hamilton, who was the same priest that Governor Woodford had used to investigate the conditions in Manzanilla among the freed Africans. In 1843 the completed building was consecrated by Bishop Parry.

By 1901 the original wooden building was in need of extensive repairs and so the majority of the church was rebuilt using local limestone. A beautiful addition to the rebuilt church was the installation of three stained glass windows.


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Santa Rosa

When the Mission at Arima was established by the Capuchin Monk in 1749 the original church was a small house with thatched roof, however the mission was abandoned after 5 years. The land for the church was donated by Christian Robles.

In 1786 at the urgings of Padre Pedro Jose Reyes Bravo, Governor Jose Chacon reestablished the mission at Arima, granting it 2,334 acres and a new church was constructed using local lumber. On completion of the new mission church in 1786 Governor Chacon recognized that 1786 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of the saint, Santa Rosa de Lima. Rosa de Lima was not only the first Amerindian to be made a saint but the first saint of the New World. And so to mark the anniversary Governor Chacón dedicated the mission church to this saint, making her the patron saint of Arima.

There is some conjecture surrounding the birth of St Rose. Some say that she was of Amerindian heritage. Others have said that she was born in Arima from Spanish parents and went to Peru at the age of two. Yet others have said that she was born to Spanish parents in Peru in 1586. What is known is that she devoted her life in Peru to helping the poor and destitute and sick slaves. She died in 1617 and on April 12 1671 was declared a saint.

The Catholic Church at Arima has long celebrated the feast of its patron saint, Santa Rosa with records indicating that this celebration was taking place as early as 1818. A highlight of the festival is the procession carrying the statue of St. Rose through the streets of Arima. The Santa Rosa Festival has also long been associated with the Amerindians. One of the beliefs surrounding how the Amerindians came to be associated with the festival is that St Rose appeared to a group of Amerindians and told them that in order to survive they had to accept Christianity. There are also several legends associated with the statue. One legend is that it was found at the mouth of a cave in Guanapo and brought to the Church. Another legend is that it was found at an underground spring in the area now known as Santa Rosa Heights.

Due to its close association with the Amerindians the religious festival has been expanded and incorporates aspects that highlight our Amerindian heritage. Now often known as the Santa Rosa Carib Festival it takes place in August - in the week leading up to Independence Day (August 31). The ceremonies include the crowning of the Carib Queen, an elder matron of their community who performs the role of focusing their heritage and traditions; performance of some of the traditional and ritual Amerindian activities - smoke ceremonies and prayers plus the church procession.

Unfortunately in 1810 the church was destroyed in a hurricane but the Padre rebuilt it using Amerindian labour. In 1869 under Monsignor Louis Daudier, the church was demolished and replaced by a larger structure built with boulders taken from Calvary Hill by Amerindians.



The Santa Rosa Catholic Church is built on an East-West axis and this is typical of all the early Catholic churches in Trinidad. The direction that the church faces is symbolic and according to Father Anthony de Verteuil the tabernacle was placed on the eastern end as a reminder that Christ is the sun coming to enlighten the world and dispel the darkness of ignorance and sin. In the 1940’s and 1950’s under Canon Maher a marble altar and stained glass windows were installed on the eastern side. Now the rising sun streams through the stained glass adding to the beauty of the interior.


The attractiveness of this church continues on the outside, where on the northern boundary wall, murals depicting the life of Christ have been painted.




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Mary-Magdalene Church_Manzanilla

As one enters the district of Manzanilla the most prominent structure is the Mary Magdalene Anglican church sitting between two roads, one leading to North Manzanilla and the other leading to the popular Manzanilla Beach. It is almost as if the church is straddling two worlds and if one looks back in the history of the area it may in a sense have done that.

Manzanilla during the years of Spanish colonization and in the early years of British occupation was a remote place with no discernible roads leading to it, only a forest trail. In 1817, the British Government took a decision to disband the 6th West India Regiment which was comprised of negro soldiers. These West India Regiments had come into being in 1796, when the British Government alarmed at the rapid death of European troops in tropical climates, had authorized the Commander in Chief of the British Forces in the West Indies to purchase slaves to serve as fighting troops in the British Army. From that time until 1808 it is estimated that 13,000 Africans were bought for service in the Army. With the English Slavery Abolition Act of 1808, the Army could no longer purchase slaves and instead began patrolling off the coast of West Africa and in the Caribbean and any boat carrying slaves was seized and the Africans taken into service in the army in the West India Regiments. In time there were 11 Regiments of approximately 600 men each. When the decision was taken to begin disbanding some of the regiments, the white planters in all the islands, except Trinidad, objected to these men being allowed to settle in their islands because they were afraid of black men who had been trained to carry arms and fight. Governor Ralph Woodford however took these men and settled them in Manzanilla with each single man receiving 8 acres and married men receiving 16 acres. One of the conditions however imposed on these men was that they were to construct and maintain a road from Arima to Manzanilla. In 1822, these former soldiers were joined by some members of the 3rd West India Regiment. Both groups actually met another group of negro soldiers who had fought alongside the British in the American war of 1812 and who had been settled in the area in 1815 and 1816.

In 1839 Governor Sir Henry Macleod sent Reverend J.N. Hamilton from St Mary's Church in Tacarigua to inspect the conditions in Manzanilla. Reverend Hamilton in his report stated that "many of them are nominally Mohammedans (Moslems/Muslims) and under the guidance of five so called Mandingo priests". 

The Mary Magdalene Anglican Church was established during the time of the Anglican Bishop Thomas Hayes who came to Trinidad in 1889. It may have been that the Bishop had decided that it was time to impose a Christian outpost in this area, thus having the church straddle two worlds. The Church was made part of the parish of St. Bartholomew which had been established in 1848 and included Mayaro, Nariva, Toco & the settlement of Manzanilla, (it is now part of the parish of St. Faith). By 1996 however the church was virtually desolate. Fortunately under the direction of Father Ronald Clifford Warrick Branche the church was restored and stained glass windows placed to the top. In July 1999, St Mary Magdalene was rededicated.


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Catholic Church, Mission Toco

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Around 1731 Catholic Capuchin priests from Aragon in Spain established a mission in Toco. As part of the mission they built a church on a slight hill overlooking the sea. Over time the village that developed around the church came to be called Mission Village, which name it bears up to this day.  In 1830, the Catholic Church made Toco a parish and built a new church on the same spot as the original church established in 1731. This church was called Our Lady of the Assumption Church at Mission Village. Today this church still sits on the hill ministering to those in the village that it gave its name plus those who come to camp on the nearby beach.

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The first structure for what is currently known as the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in San Fernando was a wooden building built in 1823 by Father Onesime Christophe of Guadaloupe. As San Fernando was not yet a town, in fact it was not even called San Fernando but rather Petit Bourg, the church was served by a priest who came from Princes Town, which at the time was called Savanna Grande. There was an Amerindian mission at Savanna Grande which was organised and managed by Capuchin missionary priests.

According to Anthony de Verteuil in his book, The Black Earth of South Naparima, in 1826 the situation was reversed and a priest named Father Tabando was based in San Fernando and journeyed to Savanna Grande to look after the Indians. In 1840 the foundation was laid for a new church. This large hard-wood church was completed in 1849 along what is called Harris Promenade. As French was widely spoken at the time, the church was called "Notre Dame de Bons Secours". (Our Lady of Good Help).

That structure was demolished and rebuilt in 1950 by Father Sabastien Webber, a Benedictine monk. The current structure was dedicated in June, 1975. The tower of the present church contains one of the largest clocks in TT measuring eight feet in diameter. It has been in the church since the building was constructed in the 1950s. The original clock had a manual winding system but was eventually converted to an electrical system by Victor Vivian Gormandy.

While the clock may be the first item that strikes your eye when looking at the church you eventually see the large statue of Jesus on the Cross positioned at the front of the church in the Garden. Within the church are statues along the inner walls for stations of the cross while the high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows create a peaceful atmosphere.

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Krishna Mandir

The Krishna Mandir on Todd Street in San Fernando is a beautiful sight with its spires and ornamentation on the walls. It is especially beautiful in the late afternoons when the rays of the sun strike the white walls of the Mandir and burnish the gold highlights on the walls.


The decision to construct a temple in this area was made in 1951 and Mr Bisram Gopie, an employee of the sugar estate at Usine St Madeline, appealed to his employers for the land on which to build the temple. His employers agreed to lease fifteen thousand square feet of land to the Gandhi Seva Sangh who were was the governing body for the Mandir at the time . Funds were raised from the community and a temporary Ashram was erected. The operation of the temple required financial support and the women‘s group of the temple was the backbone of the support for the Mandir, they organized numerous fundraisers which contributed substantially to repairs and painting of the Mandir, repairs of furniture, electrical and plumbing fittings, and payment of the water, building taxes and electrical bills. In 1981 it was decided that the original Mandir had to be rebuilt because of problems with the original building and through the support of well -wishers and donors and members, a new building was created.

One of the noticeable features of this Mandir is that the murtis are positioned at the front of the Temple. These murtis were installed at various times after the construction of the new temple; in June 1987 the lord Krishna, Ganesh and Vishnu murtis were installed, September 1987 Durga and Shiva, February 1988 Shiva Lingam, October 1988 Lakshmi and Saraswati and May 1989, Hanumanji. Subsequently, and under the guidance of many pundits, all the murtis were repositioned, at the front of the Mandir.


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Reform Village Hindu Mandir

Located in Reform Village, not far from Gasparillo is a beautiful Hindu Mandir that exemplifies the determination of people to have a place of worship even in circumstances when they do not have much material wealth. It also shows how from simple beginnings a lovely structure can be created.

The area surrounding the villages of Gasparillo, Wiliamsville and Reform was land that was devoted to sugar cane and peopled by the descendants of Indian indentured laborers. In 1943 the residents decided that they wanted to have a mandir in their area but did not have the financial resources to buy the materials for the construction and so they looked for what was available to them. Thus they collected sand and gravel from the nearby Guaracara River and transported it in buckets to the site. They obtained stones from the quarry that was located on San Fernando Hill. This material was used for the foundation and walls and when they had nothing else they hand plastered the walls using Gobar (cow dung). On 2nd March 1946 the temple was opened and this is considered an auspicious night on the Hindu calendar being known as Maha Shivratri night. The design for the mandir was done by a craftsman from the Sidoo family of Debe and it was patterned after temples found in central India.

In the original construction there were seven murtis on the walls of the mandir and over time this has grown to 23 murtis. The temple now consists of three shrines; the main shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva, a Lingam is in the middle of this shrine with hand crafted Murties of Lord Ganesh, Lord Vishnu and Mother Parvati on the walls. There are two smaller shrines, the one on the left has murties of Lord Rama and Mother Sita and the one on the right has murties of Lord Krishna and Lord Hanuman, all crafted on the walls of the shrines.  At the top of the main entrance is a statute of Lord Hanuman who is believed to be the 11th reincarnation of Lord Shiva.

In 1953 this mandir was featured in the January issue of the National Geographic Magazine with photos of the exterior on page 67 (at the time the mandir was painted white) and of the interior on page 68. In July 2015, the Reform Village Mandir was added to the Trinidad and Tobago Register of National Heritage Sites and Historic Buildings because of the unique architecture, the age of the Mandir and the design of the murties.


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St Peter’s RC Church Pointe-a-Pierre

Sitting on a little hill in Pointe-a-Pierre, with the Southern Main Road winding around the middle of the hill, is a cute small chapel. Although small, it commands the hilltop and the cemetery that steps down the hillside seems almost to support the chapel. This small chapel is the St Peter's Roman Catholic Church at Pointe-a-Pierre. The hill upon which the church sits is known as Bon Accord Hill and derives its name from the Bon Accord Estate that existed in the 1800's.

In the 1700's and 1800's most of the land along the west coast of Trinidad and in the Naparima plains was cultivated in sugar cane and owned by French planters who were mostly Catholic. In 1850, the owner of the Bon Accord Estate, Mr. Danglade, donated three acres of land on a knoll for the purpose of erecting a Catholic Church. The land was surrounded on the north, east and south by the Bon Accord Estate. In 1865, a wooden chapel and a presbytery were built on the upper part of the knoll. Two years later, the chapel was enlarged by the first parish priest, Rev. Fr. J. B. Rabanit who remained at Point-a-Pierre for 34 years. Eventually it became necessary for a new chapel to be built and again as a result of the hard work of Father Rabanit a new enlarged chapel was dedicated in 1882. It is said that the dedication was the grandest ceremony ever seen by Catholics in that area and a large crowd was attracted because the railway which was a new mode of transportation ran along the foot of Bon Accord Hill so many persons took the opportunity to try this new mode of transport and attend the ceremony.



St Peter's R C Church however is not only worthy of remembrance because it is a pretty church on a hill but also because it is responsible for the formation of one of the major credit unions in the country. Fr. Maurus Maingot O.S.B., Parish Priest of St. Peter’s R.C. Church, Pointe-a-Pierre convinced his parishioners that they should start a credit union and so in 1946 the St. Peter’s Credit Union was started and officially registered on 2nd January 1947 and its office was at the St. Peter’s Church Presbytery. After some time the name was changed to the Pointe-a-Pierre Credit Union. As the membership and business grew, it was recognized that the Church’s premises were inadequate for the Credit Union’s activities and given that many of the members were employees of the then Trinidad Leaseholds Limited (T.L.L) the company responded positively to the request for space and a building next to the Labor Office was identified. The Credit Union moved to its new office in July 1953.  With the acquisition of Trinidad Leaseholds Limited by Texaco and a preponderance of its members working with Texaco, the name of the credit union was changed to Texaco Employees Credit Union. This name was then later changed to what is known today as TECU Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited.


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The Treveni Mandir is an impressive site, sitting on a hill with spires reaching for the sky and manicured lawns spread around. This large temple complex is truly beautiful with detailed workmanship. Located on Sister’s Road in the village of Hardbargain, the mandir is sometimes called the Sister’s Road Hindu Temple. The name Triveni was given to the mandir because it was the meeting place of three villages, Sister’s Road, St. Julien and Dyers Village and in India the meeting point of three sacred rivers, the Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati was called Triveni.

Looking at the Triveni Mandir today one cannot help but be impressed by the devotion and dedication that ultimately led to the creation of this magnificent complex. Especially when you consider that the original group was created in 1946 and it was not until 1948 that a small wooden structure was erected on the site using wood that the men cut from the surrounding forest. In 1970 work on a larger structure was started and completed in 1974. In 1992 an upgrade to the building was done and then in 2001the entire complex was rebuilt with the work ending in 2003.

The Triveni mandir can be reached by taking the Gasparillo Exit from the Solomon Hochoy Highway and then travelling along the Bonaventure Main Road. One can also get to the temple by using the Guaracara Tabaquite Road and going through Williamsville.

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St Stephen’s Anglican Church lies at the western entrance to Princes Town and has both religious and historical significance. To understand its historical significance we have to go back to the start of recorded civilization in this area. The year was 1687 and in October of that year, the Catholic Catalan Capuchin friars established a mission for the Amerindians at this location that was called La Mission de Savanna Grande. The name was given because the area around this mission is composed of rolling plains and hence was considered big savannahs. As the years progressed, Savanna Grande or simply Mission as it was sometimes called, grew in size even though its Amerindian population decreased markedly. This growth was partly caused by the establishment of the "Company Villages" nearby and also by the development of large sugar cane estates on the surrounding plains. As a result of these estates, the first railway was established with a tramway running from Savanna Grande to San Fernando with horse and mule drawn carriages.

Even in the early years of its existence Savanna Grande experienced a tourist trade as it lay directly along the path of those going to visit the Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano. It was this tourist trade that led to a high point in the life of Savanna Grande. In January 1880, two grandsons of Queen Victoria were in Trinidad and the Governor at the time, Henry Irving, took them to see the mud volcano. As they were passing St. Stephens Church, Reverend Knight begged them to plant two poui trees to mark their historic visits. The two princes agreed and planted the trees in the churchyard. In honour of the visit the name of the village was henceforth changed to Princes Town.

St Stephen’s Church still stands at the entrance to the town and in the yard can still be seen two poui trees brightening our day with their yellow flowers in the dry season.

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As one drives along the Southern Main Road on the southern side of Chaguanas in the village of Edinburgh, Trinidad, you pass a continuous stream of small commercial establishments. Suddenly in the midst of this conglomeration of houses and businesses there sits a majestic structure of predominantly white, the Edinburgh Hindu Tempe. This beautiful structure is a scene of serenity in the midst of commercial chaos and it is uncanny how even though cars are passing one gets a sense of calm from being at the temple. The land for this temple was donated by the owners of the Woodford Lodge sugar estate in 1920 and a small mandir was constructed. Then in 1983, under the guidance of pundit Ramesh Tiwari, the Edinburgh Hindu Temple was reconstructed into the present structure.

Although at first the overall white colour catches your attention, your eyes are soon drawn to the colourful symbolic tile work that graces the outer walls. As you look more closely at the outer walls one also begins to discern the figures and patterns that have been moulded into the brickwork. Raising your eyes to the heavens reveals the domes that are on the roof of the building. Each of the domes is ornamented with other figures but it is the northern dome that draws your eyes as it is ornamented with figures of Lords Shiva, Ganesh and Hanuman.

The interior of the mandir is air-conditioned and there are marble murtis arranged in family groups.

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Hanuman, believed to be an avatar of Lord Shiva and the mighty ape that aided Lord Rama in his expedition against evil forces, is worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion in the Hindu religion. There are several Hanuman murtis in Trinidad with two of the most colorful being at Diego Martin and Carapachaima. Usually Hanuman is shown as either standing or sitting but now at the Todd's Road Hindu Temple in Caparo we have Hanuman depicted in a flying position. The flying Hanuman is based on the incident in the Ramayan where Hanuman carried the mountain with the Sanjeevani Herb to save the life of Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Ram, who was struck and rendered unconscious by the arrow of Indrajit, son of Ravana. At the Todd's Road Temple Hanuman is shown holding a mountain in his left hand.

This Murti which is 12 feet long, 24 feet high and weighs two and a half tons flies twenty feet above the ground. It was commissioned by Mr. Harrinarine Persad Managing Director of Harry Persad and Sons Limited. The statue was designed and constructed by a Trinidadian sculptor, Marlon Emmons, who worked for seven months on the project. The Todd's Road Hindu Temple is a small temple in the midst of a rural former agricultural village and the statue is dedicated to Basso Persad from her son Harry Persad.


 The Flying Hanuman Statue is very easy to find as one takes the Brasso Caparo Road from Longendenville and proceed for approx 9 minutes to the Todd's Station Road leading to Talparo and turn left onto this road and then go for 2 minutes and turn left on Fletcher Road. The temple is on Fletcher Road. It is especially easy to visit this statue if you are going along this route to visit other attractions in central Trinidad such as Knolly's Tunnel.


Flanagin Town Catholic Church

Flanagin Town owes its existence to three things; Clifton Flanagin, cocoa and the railroad. Cocoa has been planted in Trinidad for almost 500 years. The Spaniards first planted the Criollo (native) variety in Trinidad in 1525 which was introduced from Mexico. According to the Cocoa and Coffee Industry Board of Trinidad and Tobago, "the industry was almost completely destroyed in 1727 by a ‘blast’ (a hurricane or Ceratocystis wilt or bark canker, a Phytophthora infection). Consequently, Forastero (exotic) cacao was introduced from Venezuela in 1757, and eventually inter-bred with the remnant Criollo to produce hybrid cacao referred to as Trinitario." After the abolition of slavery in 1807, many sugar estates converted to growing cocoa and many ex-slaves squatted on Crown lands and began growing cocoa. By 1830, Trinidad and Tobago was the world’s third highest producer of cocoa, after Venezuela and Ecuador, producing 20% of the world’s cocoa. It is said however that in 1888 the area that would come to be called Flanagin Town was under high wood and accessible only by bridle path.

In 1900, Clifton Flanagin was transferred to the area as Warden. According to Michael Anthony, "the reason he was sent there was to give his assistance to the development of certain fast-growing areas. These areas were fast-growing because of their new crop, cocoa". However the planters had great difficulty in getting their crop to market because of poor transportation. By 1898, purely because of the amount of cocoa they were producing, the government extended a branch railway line from the Cunupia farm and through the Caparo valley right on to Tabaquite.  In 1900, there was a great deal more crown lands already set aside to be sold, and this warden had to attend to the surveying of these parcels, as well as to the making of roads and crown traces". The sale of these lands resulted in more cocoa being produced. The problem now became that there were many estates and "too many people found themselves living between two railway stations in the Caparo Valley, Brasso Piedra and Brasso Caparo. It was unreasonably far for those who were caught in the middle and by 1903, with pressure from Clifton Flanagin himself, the authorities decided that a railway station was needed to serve those people". At the time however the area had no name and so because of the persistence of Clifton Flanagin, the Train Station was called "Flanagin Town".

Now with estates and people living around, it was only natural that there would be a church in the area and in 1904 a combination Catholic Church and School was established, up a hill along a trace that is now called Old School Street. In 1911, it was decided that a new church should be constructed and the foundation was laid but that is as far as it reached. In 1923 a new parish priest was appointed, a Dutchman called Carolus Joseph Ten Brink. In 1933, Fr Ten Brink announced one Sunday that he would complete the building, which he did in an amazing 11 weeks. He completed the stone school/chapel of St Bartholomew's in Flanagin Town, and blessed it September 11, 1933. That church still stands today in the heart of Flanagin Town.





The picturesque village of Tortuga sits on the highest point of the Central Range. It is a poignant spot. One of the oldest and most charming churches can be found on this pretty crest. From its cusp, the city of San Fernando and the oil refineries that represent the cogs that drive the nation's economy lie in clear view. The distance makes them seem almost pretty and it is possible to romanticise the slash of flame on the horizon.

Tortuga church, as it is commonly known, is the Catholic church of Our Lady of Montserrat built in 1872. This church is best known for its recent restoration work.

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The church had fallen into disrepair and many of its original stained-glass panes depicting biblical scenes were in danger of being lost forever. Elton Rostant, Karen de Verteuil, George de Verteuil, Monica Clement, Simone Taylor, Yvonne Rostant, Clares Batholomew, Franklyn Lee Sam, and Joseph Rostant were the dedicated committee members that worked tirelessly to bring this church built by French priest and architect Fr Marie Jules Dupoux back to its former glory. The end result is something of remarkable beauty.

The restoration of the stained-glass panes was begun in 1991. Mike Watson, the talented craftsman who discovered their existence in 1985, began the meticulous process of restoration in an attempt to preserve the panes before they sucuumbed to further damage. The windows originally came from renowned atelier Henri-Louis Victor Gesta.

Gesta was the son of Louis Victor Gesta, owner of the 19th century’s largest stained glass window manufacturing firm in the world. The windows, depicting biblical scenes, were made in Toulouse, France, between 1880 and 1890 but were damaged by tropical storm Alma in 1974.

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Mike Watson sadly passed away before his work could be completed. His baton was taken over by the committee with Simone Taylor taking an especial interest in the restoration of the windows.

In a 2004 Guardian Newspaper report, the following report was given..... Taylor’s efforts included four trips to France to find the original manufacturer of the windows. In 1995 she visited the atelier of Michael and Daniel Bataillou in Toulouse. She subsequently enlisted the help of the French Embassy, which sponsored a visit to Trinidad by Daniel Bataillou who provided an estimate for restoring the 20 windows. This figure was roughly $500,000. Undaunted, the Friends continued their fund-raising, eventually taking a loan for $300,000.
In February 2004, the windows were sent to Toulouse, where the Bataillous worked on their restoration. They were aided by Michael Inniss, a glass maker from Trinidad. The French Embassy sponsored a two-month trip in which he was able to learn the process and assist in restoring the windows. The newly restored glass windows returned to Trinidad in late August and after five days of feverish work, they were reinstalled in their original positions at the church. The finished product was first seen at the parish festival held on September 5. Parishioners, Gran Couva residents and people from all over the country were able to see the result.

The rear entrance of the church is reached by climbing rickety wooden stairs that open onto a side room that is the shrine to the much beloved Black Virgin of Montserrat. This Virgin is said to have been brought to the church by early Capuchin monks. She is swathed in a shiny white dress and holds her infant Jesus close to her breast. Her altar is dotted with fresh flowers. I found an excellent article by Paria Publishing online that gives a comprehensive history of this unique madonna.

Few genuine relics remain from Trinidad's Spanish period. One of them is to be found in the church dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat. This little wooden figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the 'Black Virgin', is said to be a copy of a statue of Our Lady in a shrine in Montserrat, Spain. Port of Spain was probably not founded by the Spaniards at all........ (click to read the entire article)

The view from the churchyard cemetery is serene and peaceful. It overlooks the central plains and is a reminder of how much of Trinidad's beautiful countryside is still undeveloped. In its heyday, this was prime cocoa land and many fortunes were made and lost on the plains of Gran Couva. The cocoa grown in this soil is still recognized as the one of the most superior in the world.

In addition to the beautiful stained-glass windows, the Stations of the cross in this church are unique in that the captions below each image are all in French.

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The overall effect is beautiful. The beautifully rendered images delivered in French reminds of the strong French Creole influence of the French cocoa planters of the 19th century.

This church has an extraordinary atmosphere. Yes, there is the overwhelming beauty of the stained glass but there is also a palpable energy that radiates from the Black Virgin. This mixes in with the French Stations of the Cross and captures the complicated relationships that must have been a way of life for the cocoa farmers and their estate workers. I imagined how many planters would have come to this church seeking redemption or reprieve during the crash of cocoa. Just to add a sense of drama, the distant flares of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery couldn't be more apt. As the old poeple say, after one time, is another.

The information on Tortuga RC Church was kindly provided by Sharon Millar who writes the blog My Chutney Garden

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The 100 year old St Vincent Ferrer Church, which is located at the beachfront in Gran Chemin is the most imposing structure in Moruga. The church tower can be seen from a great distance at sea and indeed that was the intention when this church was constructed in 1908, with the tower to be a beacon drawing the fishermen home.


In the early 1900's, Moruga was an agricultural area all but cut off from the rest of Trinidad by the difficult land journey to get from the area to Princes Town, taking almost a day to complete. It was an area fronted by the sea and then encircled by forests with the main human contact being among those persons who lived in the village and with principally agricultural holdings the majority of individuals lived in a dispersed manner. There was an original church built of Tapia and between 1876-1906, there had been three other priests who did not live in Moruga but traveled to conduct masses in the quiet village. Then in 1906 the first resident parish priest was appointed for Moruga, Father Joseph Emmanuel Vessing.

Fr Vessing soon developed a vision for the church that he wanted Moruga to have. As a result the priest wrote George Brown, who was the manager of hardware and construction at Trinidad Shipping and Trading Company, asking to purchase materials on credit. There was an agreement dated November 26, 1907, between the Trinidad Shipping and Trading Company and Fr Vessing for the construction of the church at a cost of $7,200.  Many of the wealthy planters of the area agreed to contribute money to cover the cost of the construction. Construction started in February 1908 and because he was driven to ensure its completion, Fr Vessing took on the role of managing the construction, completing the church building in November 1908.

Unfortunately when the church was completed, many who had promised to contribute reneged on their promise and the church was saddled with the debt. According to Anthony de Verteuil in his book Temples of Trinidad, the priest overcome by the loneliness of Moruga and the pressure of the debt resigned from the church in 1911, left the priesthood and went to live in New York. Eventually after many years the debt for the construction of the church was repaid.


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 Mount Elvin Baptist Church sits quietly on a little knoll off Hindustan Road on the outskirts of New Grant in southern Trinidad. It is an unpretentious church and yet it can be considered the epicenter of the Baptist religion in Trinidad and Tobago. This church was established in 1816 and the significance of that date has to do with the settlement of the "Merikens" in Trinidad in that year.

In 1816 demobilized Africans who had served in the British Army during the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans were settled in what came to be known as the Company Villages. According to A.B. Huggins in his book "the Saga of the Companies" the term "Merikens" arose because these individuals could not properly pronounce the letter A in American. John McNish Weiss in his paper "The Corps of Colonial Marines" says that these "Merikin" soldiers were slaves in the USA who were promised their freedom if they fought for the British. Recruited by the British first in Maryland and Virginia and later in Georgia, they were a fighting unit much praised for valor and discipline. When the British Army companies left for home in April 1815, the six Black companies became the 3rd Battalion Colonial Marines, garrisoned in Bermuda on Ireland Island. They did garrison duty and worked as artisans and labourers in the building of the new Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda. When transfer to the West India Regiments was proposed the men  rejected the idea. Their persistent intransigence finally led the British government to offer to place them in Trinidad as independent farmers. On accepting the offer they left Bermuda on 15 July 1816.The first group of 71 settled in Dunmore Hill and Mount Elvin while the second group of 72 settled in Indian Walk.

These were religious people who followed the Baptist religion practiced in the southern United States. Although there were no clergymen among them there were 5 men who were described as Anabaptist preachers who held Sunday ceremonies. One of these men was known as Brother Will Hamilton. In 1808 the London Missionary Society (Baptist) sent workers to Guyana and Tobago and in 1809 one of them, Thomas Adam, relocated to Trinidad. He and later Reverend George Cowen while working on the establishment of St John's Baptist Church in Port of Spain also gave assistance to these African-American ex-slaves who were practicing a version of the Baptist faith. In time, the similarities of the religion led to the adoption of the missionaries’ version of the Baptist faith that came to be called in Trinidad, London Baptist. Over time however, according to Ashram Stapleton in his book "The Birth and Growth of the Baptist Church in Trinidad and Tobago", there developed a schism as some persons in the church wanted certain African practices included and the London Missionary Society frowned on those practices. Eventually these persons left the church and were first called the "Disobedient Baptists" and finally the Spiritual or Shouter Baptist. Other differences within the London Baptists then led to further variations of the Baptist religion with the development of the Independent Baptists and the Fundamental Baptists.

So today the Mount Elvin Baptist church sits quietly on its knoll, overlooking the fields that these African American ex-slaves toiled in and created, continuing in its adherence to the London Baptist version but having spawned the entire Baptist religion in Trinidad.


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Tableland, located between Princes Town and Rio Claro, is a quiet village that does not often appear in the news, yet Tableland is home to what is reputed to be the oldest Hindu temple in Trinidad and the second oldest Hindu temple in the Western Hemisphere. In the early 1900's Mahant Moose Bhagat Dass, an indentured labourer who had migrated from Bharat desh in India to Trinidad, removed some stones from a river that ran through a small estate near his home and placed the stones in the yard of his home. Sometime after Mahant Moose Bhagat Dass claimed that Lord Shiva appeared to him in a dream and told him that in removing the stones from the river he had disturbed Lord Shiva's resting place. In order therefore to make up for his actions, Mahant Dass then began construction of a temple which was completed in 1904.

That temple remains to this day in its original location at the side of the Mahant Dass home with his descendants looking after the maintenance of the building. On its walls are numerous murals depicting various Hindu gods. The temple is easily found as it is on the northern side of the Naparima Mayaro Road on the outskirts of Tableland village before the Police Station. The temple was originally a family temple however over time it was extended on the side to accommodate villagers. Within the temple two shrines were constructed, one to Lord Shiva and the other to Lord Rama. Within the shrine to Lord Shiva are the original stones whose removal caused the construction of the temple.


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St Theresa's Roman Catholic Church, Rio Claro

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This church, located on an incline to the north-west of the main commercial district was constructed in 1928.


Catholic Church Mayaro

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Mayaro is one of the areas in Trinidad that was originally settled by the Amerindians. In 1783, the Spanish Governor, Jose Chacon, signed the Cedula de Populacion that led to an increase in the population of the island with an influx of French settlers. Chacon gave land in Mayaro to some of these settlers. A Catholic Church was built in 1819.

The Church of St Peter & St Paul was constructed on land donated by Alphonse Ganteaume who was a descendant of Pierre Nicholas Ganteaume who had fled from Martinique in 1793 as a result of the French Revolution and attempting to get to Venezuela, washed ashore at Mayaro.

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This church has become a landmark in Mayaro and the area known as Church Road in Radix Village. Generally a quiet church but at holiday time during July & August and especially at Easter, the church fills as vacationers attend the service. This church with its high vaulted wooden ceiling beams encourages one to take time for peaceful reflection.

The beaches at Mayaro are popular for bathing and the Church Road area is one of the most popular, with a lifeguard station. It is also a popular Easter camping location.


St Francis of Assisi - Erin

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The St. Francis of Assisi church was originally established in 1758 and around this church the village of Erin developed. The present church was built in 1916, replacing an earlier church from 1876 that had in turn replaced the first church. The establishment and naming of this church has over the years resulted in some confusion in terms of the naming of the area, i.e. is the area Erin or San Francique. The Spanish missionaries who established a mission at this bay for the conversion of the Amerindians in the area, called the mission church San Francisco. When the French Catholic settlers began populating the area they called the church, Saint Francique. When the British conquered Trinidad in 1797 and set about creating a map of Trinidad, it seems they were either unsure of the real name or sought a compromise and so labelled the area as San Francique. As a result some people refer to the area as San Francique while others call the area Erin. There is another church that is also called St Francis of Assisi and it is located in Belmont.

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In the small village of Icacos in the Cedros region there sits a small beautiful clean looking mosque, clothed in white with green trim. The presence of this mosque is a further reminder of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious nature of Trinidad society. The presence of this mosque is also a reminder that the Cedros region has the second largest Hosay celebration in Trinidad. While Hosay is a Shiite Muslim tradition, one of the differences with the Cedros religious observance is that many Hindus and Christians participate in the construction of the tadjahs. All who work to build the tadjahs (Moslems and Non-Moslems) must observe the fasting and rules of ritual personal cleanliness.


Hosay is an annual parade full of colorful tadjahs in commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussain (Hussein), the grandson of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the year 680 AD. Hussain's martyrdom at Kerbala in Iraq, which is located about 100 km (60 mi) southwest of Baghdad, is observed annually by Shiites during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This observance occurs during a different calendar-month every year because the lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar (Gregorian) year. Thus, the observance arrives about a month earlier every three years, rotating through the four seasons in 33 years.

The first observance of Hosay in Trinidad has been traced back to 1854, eleven years after the first indentured laborers arrived from India. The British colonial government attempted to ban Hosay in 1884 however there were riots on sugar estates as a result of the ban and approximately 30,000 people defiantly took to the streets for Hosay in Mon Repos, San Fernando, on Thursday, October 30, 1884. As a result of the shots fired by the police to disperse the procession, 22 men were killed and another 120 were wounded. That fateful day is commonly referred to in Trinidad history as the "Hosay Massacre."

The main parade of tadjahs takes place on the 10th day of Muharram; this day is called Aashura. Aashura is the "Day of Atonement" for all Muslims and was observed long before the martyrdom of Hussain which, coincidentally, occurred on the same day. The three days preceding Aashura are also filled with parades. On the 13th day of Muharram (Teejah Day), at around 6pm the tadjahs are taken to the sea where a short prayer is said and then the tadjahs are placed in the water where they eventually sink beneath the waves.


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La Divina Pastora Roman Catholic Church

The La Divina Pastora Roman Catholic Church is the site of a religious observance where Catholics, Hindus and others venerate the same saint. Situated in Siparia in south western Trinidad, the church is atop a plateau 80 kilometers from Port of Spain and 23 kilometers from San Fernando.

Catholic Church history says that in 1703 in Seville, Spain, Isidore, a Spanish Capuchin Monk, received an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, in which she requested him to encourage the faithful to seek her intercession with Jesus, addressing her as "Divina Pastora" - Good Shepherdess. In 1758, the Aragonese Capuchins established a mission at Siparia. One of the reasons for the mission was that it lay along a route used by the Warahoon Indians as they traveled from the Orinoco region in Venezuela, landing on Quinam Beach. Then in 1795, Pope Pius VI decreed that the saint known as "The Divine Shepherdess", or more familiarly called 'La Divina Pastora', be made the patron saint of all the Capuchin missions. Sometime in the 1800's a Spanish priest brought a black hued statue of this Catholic saint from Venezuela to the church in Siparia , declaring that it had saved his life. The church was thereafter referred to as "The Church of La Divina Pastora".

The church celebrates the feast day of its patron saint during Easter. Over the years, this feast day has also become a religious observance for many Hindus. The event has become known as the "Siparee Fete" or Siparia Fete and the statue known to those of the Hindu faith as Sipari Mai (Mother of Siparia) or Siparee Mai Ke Mala. The reason for this multi-religious observance has not been definitively identified. The most popular view is that because the statue was of a dark-skinned female in a flowing, white sari-like gown with long jet-black hair the Indian indentured labourers identified her as Mother Kali, who is the black Hindu deity who leads her children to the invisible God and who readily grants wishes. Others have claimed that some indentured labourers saw an apparition of a lady in white sitting on a stone under a palm tree where the church now stands. They claim further that the apparition was endowed with healing powers, just as Mother Kali. Another theory is that long ago Siparee Mai appeared at the La Divina Church, as a baby, to grant the wishes of East Indian forefathers. It is said that the baby, who appeared close to the altar, aged as the hours of the day went by. By evening, she turned into an old woman and disappeared as the sun went down.

Whichever the reason for the start of the veneration, hundreds of Hindus visit the church each year. On Good Friday, persons of the Hindu faith take offerings to "Sipari Mai" either in supplication or thanksgiving. They believe the statue bestows fertility to barren women, marital success to couples, healing to the sick, proper husbands for young girls and blessings to the poor and needy. Children who are unable to walk or speak could be healed if offerings are made to the Goddess.

Another Hindu ritual which is performed on the church grounds on Good Friday is the first cutting of the hair of a child, locks of which are placed at the feet of the statue. The hair is cut as a sign of dedication and offering.

Because of this unique nature of the devotions that take place at La Divina Pastora, the church has been, and continues to be, the subject of research by undergraduate and graduate students.


The Other La Divina Pastora

While the La Divina Pastora Church in Siparia is well known, there is another Trinidad Catholic Church and statue called La Divina Pastora and in a small way both are linked by the Hindu veneration of the statue in Siparia. The other La Divina Pastora resides in the La Pastora chapel in Lopinot, which is situated several miles after the main village in Lopinot and its parish church of La Veronica. The church at La Veronica was built in 1945 when the colonial government relocated the people of the Caura Valley to the site of the former La Reconnaissance estate of Compte de Lopinot. The residents of Caura dismantled parts of their church, including the cornerstone, two colonnades, several stained glass windows, a bell and the statue of Saint Veronica, and carried them to Lopinot. The Church at la Pastora however predates the La Veronica church having been built in 1890 using sand, gravel and stones from the Arouca River, which runs through the valley. Within the Chapel that has replaced the La Pastora Church is a statue of La Divina Pastora. It is reputed that in October 1917 at the Arouca church this statue wept, shedding tears that were witnessed by 200 persons. Shortly after the weeping the statue was moved to the La Pastora church. It is this statue that provides the link to the Siparia church.

The exact date when Hindus began journeying to Siparia is not known but Catholic Church records of 1871 refer to the practice. In the 1880's planters in north Trinidad, attempted to reduce the work time lost as a result of their laborers going to Siparia. They imported a statue of La Divina Pastora and installed it in Calvary Chapel at the western foot of Laventille Hill, which they re-christened Siparia Hill. Unfortunately for the planters, the statue they imported was white, so the indentured labourers never believed in the statue and continued going to Siparia. Eventually the statue was moved to the Arouca church and then to La Pastora in Lopinot.

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