Friday, June 4, 2010

La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre - The Virgin of Charity

La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre

La Virgen de La Caridad del Cobre
"The Virgin of Charity"

The Virgin of Charity (La Virgen de la Caridad) is a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary in the mining town of El Cobre, outside Santiago in southwest Cuba. Her shrine is the most important religious site on the entire island.

A focus of intese popular devotion—not just for Catholics but also for followers of SanterĂ­a and even those who aren't otherwise religious—the beloved Virgin of Charity was declared the patron saint of Cuba by the pope in 1916. 

History

The town of El Cobre was founded in 1550 as a Spanish copper mine, worked by slaves and Indians. One day in 1608, two Indians and a slave boy were gathering salt on the coast near El Cobre when they saw something floating in the water. It was a small statue of the Virgin Mary, carrying the Christ child and a gold cross. She floated on a board bearing the inscription, Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad, "I am the Virgin of Charity."

At the time, the church in El Cobre was dedicated to Santiago, St. James, the powerful patron of the Spanish conquest. So the statue of the Virgin was placed in a thatched hut instead of in the church. But on three successive nights, the statue disappeared from the hut and was found on top of the hill above El Cobre.


Statue of the Virgin of Charity in the El Cobre Basilica, Santiago, Cuba


The Virgin of Charity resided in several small shrines until 1630, when the copper mine was closed and the slaves were freed. She then took St. James' place above the high altar in the church, a symbol of the triumph of the people over the Spanish conquerers.

Since then, the Virgin has continued to assist her people and has been credited with countless miracles. In 1731, when an attempt was made to reintroduce slavery, she became a symbol of emancipation for one of Cuba's largest slave insurrections. In the end, the slaves were declared free. This spread devotion to Our Lady of Charity even further.

In 1916, the pope visited the shrine of the Virgin of Charity and declared her the patron saint of Cuba. El Cobre Basilica was built to house her in 1927. In 1998, Pope John Paul II crowned her statue during his historic visit to communist Cuba.

The Virgin has collected many votive offerings from her grateful worshippers over the years. In the 1950s, Ernest Hemingway  gave the Virgin the Nobel Prize for Literature he won after writing The Old Man and the Sea in Havana. The mother of Fidel and Raul Castro  left a small golden guerrilla fighter at the feet of the Virgin as her sons battled the government of dictator Fulgencio Batista ahead of the Cuban Revolution.

Today, the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre continues to receive streams of visitors and stacks of votive gifts. Common objects left in more recent times include replicas of rafts, representing safe journeys to America, and photos of activists who have been imprisoned by Castro's government.


El Cobre Basilica, Santiago, Cuba

Prayer to Our Lady of Charity, Patroness of Cuba

Most Holy Mother of Charity
who came to us as a messenger of peace across the sea.
You are the Mother of all Cubans
To you we come, Most Holy Mother of God
to honor you with love as your children.
To your motherly heart
we entrust our desires and hopes
our work and our prayers.
We pray for our torn country
that we may be able to build
a nation based on peace and unity.
We pray for our families
that they may live in fidelity and love.

We pray for our children
that they may grow strong
in spirit and in body.

We pray for our young people
that their faith may increase,
as well as their attachment to
the truth.

We pray for the sick, the homeless,
the lonely, the exiled,
and for all suffering souls.
We pray for the Catholic Church in Cuba,
for its mission,
for its priests, deacons,
religious and laity.

We pray for the victory
of justice and love
in our country.

Mother of Charity!
We place ourselves
under your mantle of protection!
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus!
And to Him be the glory and the power
now and forever. Amen. 



Source: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/cuba/el-cobre.htm

2 comments:

  1. Pray for my family o Virgin Bless me financially, In Jesus name.AMEN

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pray for my family, and pray that I find a good paying job so that I may care for my child, soon. Amen.

    ReplyDelete