Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Basilica "Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre" in El Cobre is a pilgrimage for Cubans

Since the sixteenth century, the Spaniards knew El Cobre (20 km west of Santiago de Cuba) already as site of copper ore

Today's visitors come for the copper or the highly revered Virgin of Mercy, since 1916 the national saint

The basilica " Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre " was built in 1926

The story behind the " La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre "
starting around 1928

Two indigenous brothers, Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos and a black slave,
Juan Moreno, were in the Bay of Nipe looking for salt to preserve meat

In the bay suddenly raised a storm which gave their boat a hard time on the violent waves

Juan, the slave, wore a medal with the image of the Virgin Mary

The three men began to pray for protection and suddenly the sky cleared and the storm was gone

In the distance they saw a strange object floating and rowed towards it

It was an image of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus on her left arm and holding a gold cross in her right hand

The statue was attached to a sign " Yo Soy la Virgen de la Caridad "
or "I am the Virgin of Charity "

The statue was dressed with real cloth and the Virgin had real hair and skin of a woman

To their surprise the statue remained dry while floating in the water

The African slaves, who had to work in the mines worshiped the gold dressed holy image

For them she was the goddess of fertility Ochun and the image is
now in this Basilica

Pope John Paul II visited the basilica in 1998

In the church you see colored windows, blue, white and gold paintings and many offerings

If there is no church mass the entrance is at the back of the church and the holy image is turned to you

Hemingway has left his Nobel Prize in this basilica and known Cuban baseball players their medals or balls as thanks for a match won

We saw a number of beautifully dressed girls who were laying flowers at the church as gratitude that they were healed

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