Cuba

Cuba’s patron saint, kissed by Pope Francis, comes to Miami

mpenton@elnuevoherald.com

The image of Caridad del Cobre with Pope Francis in Havana during his visit to the island in September 2015.
The image of Caridad del Cobre with Pope Francis in Havana during his visit to the island in September 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The statue of Cachita kissed by Pope Francis during his visit to Cuba last year will be received in Miami on Tuesday evening as part of celebrations commemorating the 100th-year anniversary of the official declaration of Our Lady of Charity as Cuba’s patron saint.

A similar celebration commemorating the 100th-year anniversary also will be held in Cuba.

The commemoration on the island will include a Mass at the National Shrine dedicated to la Caridad del Cobre (Our Lady of Charity) in the village of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba.

In Miami, home to Cuban exiles, a Mass will be held at 7 p.m. at the Ermita de la Caridad, 3609 South Miami Ave., in Coconut Grove. Archbishop Thomas Wenski will receive the statue of Cachita, as the saint is affectionately known among Cubans. It is the same statue that was delivered to Pope Francis during his visit to the island in September.

The ceremony in Miami focuses on the unity of the Cuban family and is “a significant gesture of brotherhood and inclusion that many people of faith will appreciate,” according to a statement by church authorities.

On May 10, 1916, Pope Benedict XV — at the request of a group of Cuban veterans from the war of independence from Spain — proclaimed Our Lady of Charity as Cuba’s patron saint. According to the papal decree, the statue was found floating in the Bay of Nipe in the early 17th century and was later recognized by the Catholic Church as queen and mother of all Cubans.

In Santiago de Cuba, Archbishop Dionisio García Ibáñez, will officiate a Mass at the El Cobre church. Thousands are expected to attend.

The image of Our Lady of Charity was found around 1612 by two Indians and a slave of African origin in the Bay of Nipe. The representation of the saint has transcended the religious sphere to become a symbol of Cuban identity and has been widely reflected in art and literature of the island.

In the Afro-Cuban religion, Cachita was syncretized with Oshun, the powerful orisha queen of fresh waters.

 

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