Our Lady of Charity is a symbol of Cuban nationality and Catholic adoration. This year, we celebrate the centennial year that Our Lady of Charity of Cobre (La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre) was declared the patroness of Cuba by Pope Benedict XV in 1916.
The story behind Cuba’s patroness dates back to approximately 1608, when two brothers, Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos, and a ten-year-old slave boy named Juan Moreno—known as the “Three Juanes”—were travelling by boat in search of salt to preserve meat for the copper miners. After a terrible storm, they saw a statue of Our Lady floating on the Bay of Nipe on a small board in front of them. The board read “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Shortly after, a shrine was built in El Cobre, Cuba, and it became a pilgrimage destination.
Our Lady as Patroness of Cuba
On September 14, 1915, veterans of Cuba’s War of Independence requested that Pope Benedict XV name the Virgin of Charity of Cobre as the patroness of Cuba. The pope proclaimed her as Cuba’s patroness on May 10, 1916. As seen on popular statues, Our Lady of Charity represents the Cuban flag with her white robe and blue cloak as she holds a child wearing red.
Our Lady of Charity Photograph Exhibit
The University Library curated an exhibit of photographs related to the devotion of Our Lady of Charity in Miami from The Voice/La Voz Newspaper Editorial Photograph Collection. The exhibit, La Virgen de la Caridad: Images from the Diaspora, is currently on display in the Archbishop John C. Favalora Archive and Museum in the University Library. In May 2016, this exhibit will travel to La Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, which sits across the sea from the shrine in El Cobre, Cuba.
Our Lady of Charity Panel Event
On Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 1:00pm – 4:30pm in Convocation Hall, St. Thomas University Library and the Florida International University Cuban Research Institute are hosting a panel discussion on the history and popular devotion surrounding Our Lady of Charity. The event is titled “La Virgen de la Caridad: Historia y Devoción Popular.” Panelists are Father Jorge Catasus, noted musician and authority on music associated with Our Lady of Charity, from Bayamo, Cuba Emilio Cueto, author of La Virgen de la Caridad en el alma del pueblo Cubano; and Dr. Olga Portuondo Zuiga, Professor of History in Santiago, Cuba, and author of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. The event will be conducted in both English and Spanish.
This blog post was authored by Yva Audate, a St. Thomas University undergraduate student who works as an assistant to Librarian Nina Rose.