Published On: Wed, Dec 17th, 2014

In the Streets of Havana Part 2

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-Editorial for The Yucatan Times-

Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre / Our Lady Of Charity.

Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre “Our Lady Of Charity”


One morning in 1607 or 1608, two indigenous brothers named Juan and Rodrigo de Hoyos and the Creole Juan Moreno, were sent by the administrator of Varajagua to collect salt from the shore of Nipe Bay.

When they reached their destination, the three young men found the sea was very rough because of heavy rain and gale-force winds.  As it was impossible to complete their mission, they took refuge in the “Callo Francés (French Key) in a rundown hut where they remained for three days.  As soon as they were able to leave their shelter, they embarked in a small canoe and headed back to the salt bank on the coast.

In the dawn mist they came across a package floating toward them. Initially they supposed it was flotsam from another craft, but they were surprised to see that it was an figurine of the Virgin Mary on a small board with an inscription that read: “I am the Virgin of Charity”

The figurine was about fifteen inches tall, and depicted a woman with a brightly colored round face. Her left arm was carrying a small “Nino Divino” holding a sphere in one hand (symbolizing the world) with the other hand bestowing a blessing.  Its appearance inspired respect and veneration.

The crew took the treasure, which they considered a priceless gift from heaven, and noted that not even the hem of the Lady´s dress had gotten wet.  Filled with joy, the young men rushed to collect the salt and then returned to Callo Francés, where they made ready to return to Varajagua with their treasure.

Upon their return, the word spread quickly, and a crowd soon formed of people coming out to greet The Virgin.  Soon people from all over the country were drawn to Varajagua to worship the “Virgin of Charity”.  The mine foreman dispatched a messenger to the Royal Manager of “Minas del Cobre” (copper mines), Don Francisco Sanchez de Moya, who ordered the construction of a chapel and sent a copper lamp to cast a perpetual light on the Virgin.


Because of the large number of worshippers and the difficulty of making a pilgrimage to “El Cobre”, Pope Pius X in 1913 suggested that a temple be devoted to “Our Lady of Charity from El Cobre” in Havana, at the request of a board chaired by Mrs. America Arias.

41 years later, on December 8 1954, in downtown Havana, such a temple was realized as the Shrine of “Our Lady of Charity.”In January 24, 1998, Pope John Paul II, during his visit to the island, crowned and blessed the image, declaring her “Holy Mother and Patroness of Cuba” during mass held at the Plaza Antonio Maceo, in the city of Santiago.

"Church Of Our Lady Of Charity" Entrance Photo: J-E. Urioste

“Church Of Our Lady Of Charity” Entrance
Photo: J-E. Urioste


The architecture of the iconic Church of “La Caridad” is eclectic and radiates an atmosphere of austere majesty.  The central structure is formed by barrel vaults, separated from the side by an arcade and succession of arches supported by a double row of cruciform pillars, on which rest longitudinal arches, and transverse articulated space giving form to rectangular sections. A barrel vault houses the high choir at the entrance.  At the side, a Greek cross is carved on each plate roof, in keeping with the ever-present eclecticism.

Daylight majestically shines through the temple crystals placed along the tops of the walls,  with colors penetrating the large windows that terminate in pointed arches. The natural light also enters the dome, highlighting the polychromatic glass. The altarpiece is cedar, covered with gold leaf Arabesques, worked in wood and plaster, to enrich the ornamentation.

A replica of the “Virgin of Charity” – a faithful copy of the one in El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba – shines on top of the altar accompanied by the national emblem and regional symbols of the former provinces of the Republic.

"Church Of Our Lady Of Charity" Altar Photo: J-E. Urioste

“Church Of Our Lady Of Charity” Altar
Photo: J-E. Urioste


José E. Urioste-Palomeque
December 17 2014
Mérida Yucatan, México

José Eugenio Palomeque-Urioste is a Business Intelligence professional in the area of ​​Research and Development. He began his training process in mass media writing scripts for radio programs, commercials and advertising campaigns.  Since then, he has written for newspapers, magazines and mass media in general in Mexico and the United States, ranging from the professional to the editorial and has written 3 fiction novels that have been presented in numerous forums and literary competitions causing much controversy as to its content.


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  1. Timothy Stevenson says:

    Religion never ceases to deceive. It robs common sense from the common people. It robs the rich & the poor that which money cannot buy- peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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