Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Santísima Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, the Patron Saint of Cuba

Imagen: 

In the town of El Cobre, at the top of the hill called Maboa, is the most famous church in Cuba. It is the Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Santísima Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, a ceremonial complex dedicated to the Patron Saint of Cuba.

Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, or Cachita, as she is affectionately called in Cuba, is one of the invocations of the Virgin Mary. In Cuban Santeria she is identified with Oshun. She is also known as the Mambisa Virgin. It is said that the Mambises entrusted themselves to her at the time of the fight. Their devotion to the Virgin was so great that after the war of independence at the beginning of the 20th century, they wrote to Pope Benedict XV and managed to proclaim her patron saint of the Cubans.

Among legends and stories

Legend has it that at the beginning of the 17th century, two brothers of indigenous descent, Juan and Rodrigo de Hoyos, and a black boy named Juan Moreno, were looking for salt in Nipe Bay when they spotted a figure floating in the sea. When they rowed towards it, they found a statuette with a female figure in whose left hand she was carrying the Baby Jesus and in her right hand she was carrying a golden cross. They found it next to a tablet that read "I am the Virgin of Charity". They took the image to the Hato de Barajagua and it was in this place where its veneration began.

Later the image was taken to the mine of El Cobre, where it was placed in a hermitage and everyone began to venerate it, considering its appearance as a miracle. Its first Sanctuary was built between 1670 and 1680, which collapsed in 1906 due to the explosions of the mine.

The National Sanctuary of Nuestra Santísima Señora de la Caridad del Cobre (Our Most Holy Lady of Charity of El Cobre) was inaugurated on September 8th, 1927. In its interior it treasures the image of the Virgin of Charity, made of gold and located in a revolving altar of marble and solid silver, decorated with objects of great value.

  

Foto de Pedro Alvite ( Archivo Excelencias)

Below the Virgin's dressing room is the so-called Chapel of Miracles. It is in this place where the faithful, believers and pilgrims deposit objects that they offer in gratitude to requests granted by the Virgin and pay their promises. You can see military trophies, Olympic medals, jewelry, crutches, and other valuable objects. One of the most curious offerings received is the Nobel Prize for Literature Ernest Hemingway.

This Shrine is one of the few places in the world that has had the very high privilege of having received the last three pontiffs (John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis). It is a sacred place for all Cubans, and it is the largest pilgrimage site in Cuba. Every September 8th is celebrated the Day of the Virgin of the Charity of El Cobre in Cuba. On that day, many of the faithful visit the Sanctuary to pay their respects to "Cachita", to feast her with sunflowers, to ask her blessings and to thank her, while lighting a candle. It is a date in which devout Catholics and Afro-Cuban religions, who venerate her syncretized with Oshun, show their faith and love to the Patroness of Cuba.

Tips

Cristóbal Colón en su viaje por América pasó frente a Anguila en 1493 pero no llegó a tocar tierra en la isla.