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  • Submitted by: lena campos
  • 09 / 09 / 2012

Cubans are celebrating on Saturday the feast dedicated to the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of its image this year.

  Cubans and foreign visitors visit the sanctuary built in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, attracted by the history and influence of one of the most important religious icons in the country.

Legend says that in 1612, two Indian brothers and a 10-year-old black boy, known in imagination as "the three Juanes", were collecting salt in the Bay of Nipe, in eastern Cuba, and saw the icon in the sea.

It was an image of Virgin Mary over a bar on which people can read "I am the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre." It was sent to Real de Minas town, near Santiago de Cuba, where there is one of the largest opencast copper veins in the Americas.

In the 19th century, during the wars of independence from Spanish colonialism, members of the Liberation Army were entrusted to the Saint, and her image, not only statues but also medals, who accompanied them in their battles, so it is also known as "the Mambisa Virgin."

Precisely, the veterans of the wars of independence wrote to Pope Benedict XV in 1915, with the request to proclaim the icon as Cuba's patron saint, an appointment came a year after and September 8 was declared the patron saint's day.

During his visit to Cuba in 1998, Pope John Paul II crowned and blessed the image of the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre and honored her during his third mass officiated in the country on January 24 of that year.

In 2010 and 2011, Cubans did not need to travel to the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba to show their devotion to the Virgin, because a nationwide pilgrimage took the image to the remote places of the island.

Church authorities, institutions and government agencies of all municipalities and provinces participated in organizing that pilgrimage.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Sanctuary of the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre and prayed to her during the apostolic visit he made to Cuba in March, just to mark the Jubilee Year for the discovery of the image.

As part of that visit, the icon, which has become a symbol of devotion, patriotism and identity, received the Golden Rose, a distinction created by Pope Leo IX in 1049.

Source: Prensa Latina

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