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The History Of Caridad Del Cobre

Catholics and other Christian individuals who are familiar with the many different names referring to the Virgin Mary may be familiar with the term Caridad Del Cobre. This term is most often said with the two words “Lady of” in front as the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in Cuba. There are many stories of the Virgin Mary and of apparitions of her throughout the world. One of the most famous sights of the Virgin Mother of God statue in Cuba occurred in Santiago del Prado, which is now called El Cobre today. This sight of the statue of Mary is an important part of Cuban Catholic and Christian religions.

The feast for the Lady of Caridad Del Cobre is celebrated on September 8. The Lady has many other titles she is referred to as by Cubans, including Our Lady of Charity and Cachita. Around the year 1608, three men, two native Indians, and a young slave boy went on a search for salt to reserve the meat in a slaughter house which employed inhabitants of El Cobre. The first day they traveled they could only reach Cayo Frances, which was halfway across the Bay of Nipe. That night they camped to escape a furious storm.

The next day at daybreak, the weather had calmed, the storm vanished. The three set out on their canoe out to sea to continue their search for salt. As they traveled across the sea, they saw a white figure floating among the waves, coming nearer. The travelers thought it was a seabird until they came close enough to realize it was a statue of the Lady of Caridad Del Cobre, the Blessed Virgin Mary holding an infant on her right arm with a cross in her left hand. The statue was attached to a plank that was inscribed: “I am the Virgin of Charity.”

After the three travelers saw the statue of the Lady of Caridad Del Cobre, sworn testimonies of all three stated that despite the fierce storm the previous night and the constant motion of the waves, the statue of the Virgin Mary remained dry. The statue reaches 16 inches high, the Virgin’s feet resting on a moon, surrounded by clouds where three cherubs surround the clouds, spreading their golden wings. The image of the Virgin’s face is said to be gentle and inviting for trust and prayer. The image immediately became a popular religious figure in Cuba.

The Lady of Charity, also referred to as the Lady of Caridad Del Cobre, or shortened to El Cobre because a sanctuary was built there in devotion to her remains a popular figure to worship in Cuba. At the request by the veterans of the War of Independence, Pope Benedict XV declared El Cobre the patroness of Cuba in 1916. Pope Paul VI later raised her sanctuary to category of Basilica in 1977. In 1998, Pope John Paul II crowned her image a second time with patron saint and queen of Cuba. She rests on her altar surrounded by flowers.

This article was published on Tuesday 07 June, 2011.

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