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400th Anniversary at the Basilica of Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre en Cuba



     The Basilica of Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre was built in Palma Soriano, near Santiago de Cuba , commissioned for construction by Pope Pius XI, following the honorary visit of the Holy See Pope Benedict XV in 1916, when His Holiness declared Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, Sovereign Patroness Saint of Cuba .  Cuban architect Félix Cabarrocas designed the new Catholic church in an architectural style reminiscent of the Revival of the Spanish Neocolonial movement, the same as the Catholic Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in La Habana, Cuba .  Concurrently, in 1916, the same year of Pope Benedict XV’s visit, Mr. Woodrow Wilson was re-elected as President of the United States of America .  



     During the 20th century, the U.S.A. hosted the Exposition California-Pacific for Religious Architecture in San Diego , sponsored by Mr. Bertran Goodhue, a respected American architect for churches in the United States of America due to this architectural model pavilions which created momentum for the “revival of the Spanish Neocolonial Architectural movement” in North America , within the next two decades.  Bertran Goodhue’s architectural design for the Episcopalian Cathedral of the Santísima Trinidad in La Habana (which no longer exists) was one of the very first models of the style in Cuba and boasted of having an ornate, decorated entry in the architectural style of Spanish “churrigueresque” design, which would be imitated later in the following buildings, including non-religious structures.  At the time, the influence of the Episcopalian Church also arrived in Cuba from the United States and acquired a neutral, non-political stand.  From the first historic military occupation of the United States in Cuba at the turn-of-the-century, the Episcopalian Church had a stronger presence in Cuban and the new architectural constructions by Episcopalian Protestant Christians reflected Cuban-U.S.A. connections clearly.


   In addition, the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba is the fourth one built over the same foundation and reconstructed with a Neoclassical façade in 1922, during the term of Pope Pius XI, who succeeded Pope Benedict XV at the Holy See in Rome , Italy .


   The Basilica of Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre was also honored by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who made the historical pilgrimage in 1998 from the Vatican in Rome, and crowned the statue of the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre at the Basilica Sanctuary during his memorable visit to Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre, in Palma Soriano, Cuba.


   During the Spanish revival of religious architecture in Cuba , from 1898 through 1959, “the Republican era of Cuban history”, the architectural model of the basilica imitated the building of St. Peter’s Basilica as documented and reported by author and writer R.A. Scotty in his publication, St. Peter’s Basilica, reconstructed in 1506 at the Vatican in Rome, Italy, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of this Roman religious relic in 2006.


   The etymology of the world “basilica” in Latin comes from Ancient Greek “basilike”, (stoa), which literally means “royal hall (portico, court)” from “basileus”, “king”.


   In architectural terms, a ‘basilica” is defined as an oblong building of Ancient Rome, Italy which has two rows of columns dividing the interior into a nave and two (2) side aisles, used as court or place of assembly.  A basilica is a church or cathedral accorded certain ceremonial rights by the Pope.  It is a Roman Catholic Apostolic Church with certain ceremonial privileges, like St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Holy See at the Vatican in Italy—erected in the year 330 Anno Domini and pulled down in the year of Our Lord 1506 to be reconstructed as the new cathedral known as St. Peter’s Basilica today by the many Christian, Catholic faithful pilgrims and parishioners who gather for Sunday mass services and gather during religious holidays. At Easter Sunday, last April 15th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI held an outdoor gathering at the end of the Easter Sunday Mass for more than a million Christian Catholics and visitors at St. Peter’s Plaza in Rome to pray for peace during times of war and violence around the world.


   Coincidentally, Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 84th Anniversary birthday on April 16th, 2011, within the religious Easter holiday time.


   The Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI both have expressed Christian Catholic interest, concern, and support for Cuba , its people as Cuban Roman Catholic and Apostolic faithful, and the Cuban churches who are devoted to their religious practices as Catholic Christians and worshipers of the faith. In 2005, the Basilica Sanctuary of Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre was blessed to receive a gift from Pope Benedict XVI, a new set of bells for the church bell tower on September 8th, 2005, the anniversary of the apparition of the Patroness Saint of Cuba, sponsored by the Salesian Missions Order of Rome at the Vatican in Italy.


   For reference, “the same old bells which rung throughout the centuries used to call the copper miners and the faithful to worship at the Basilica of Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, and a call to praise God, our Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, and the Holy Spirit”. These church bells have rung in proclamation of each new Pope, Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals of Santiago de Cuba during religious festivities and great national events heralding a new era of freedom, hope, and news, for instance, the historical world response to the proposal by the late British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and U.S. President Mr. Frank D. Roosevelt who wished to include the Vatican in peace agreements at the end of the Second World War.


   On the 84th Anniversary of the building of the Basilica Sanctuary of Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre built in 1927, we must recall the apparition and the finding of the statue of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child at sea, in the Bay of Nipe, floating on Cuban waters, near El Cobre and Santiago de Cuba.


   In the year 1608, the story relates how Our Lady Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre was found as a statue floating on stormy waters near the Bay of Santiago de Cuba by Los Cayos when the brothers Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos, along with a 10-year-old slave boy, Juan Moreno, returned from collecting sea salt to preserve meat for the residents of Santiago del Prado, known today as El Cobre, near Palma Soriano and Santiago de Cuba. These (3) three seafarers in Cuban waters rowed their wooden boat safely back to land, in spite of the high tide of the waves and the strong gusts of wind blowing through the Windward Passage along the Greater Antilles, on their return to Santiago del Prado.


   The mining town of El Cobre was founded in the 16th century, 1550 Anno Domini, as Santiago del Prado, established by Spaniards and inhabited by native Caribbean Indians, also known as “Ciboneyes and Caribes”, as well as slaves. According to anecdotes and oral history narratives, one day in the year 1608, Juan and Rodrigo de Hoyos, two native Caribbean Indians, and Juan Moreno, a slave boy, found a small statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the Christ Child in her right arm and a gold cross in her left arm, wrapped in swaddling clothes, not wet by the storm over the waves at the Bay of Nipe in Cuban waters. The statue of the Virgin Mary and Child was floating on a wooden plank bearing the inscription, “I am the Virgin of Charity”—in Spanish, “Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad”.


   If 1608 A.D. were the year that Our Lady of Charity, Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre appeared, then in 2008 would be the 400th Anniversary of the apparition in Cuban waters and a tribute to the wonders of her miraculous works documented as votes of faith at the Basilica Sanctuary of El Cobre in Palma Soriano, Cuba. Visitors mention that the Mother of Mr. Fidel Castro and Mr. Raúl Castro left a small golden guerrilla fighter at the feet of the Virgin as her sons battled the government of Fulgencio Batista ahead of the Cuban Revolution…


   In the 17th century, the original church at El Cobre was dedicated to Santiago de Compostela, also known as St. James, one of the twelve apostles who preached the gospel in Spain , region of Galicia , and who is honored as a patron saint on July 25th annually. During the Middle Ages, St. James, also known as Santiago in Spanish, was the patron saint of pilgrims and the Knights of the Crusades. St. James was the powerful saint of the Spanish Conquest. So, the statue of the Virgin Mary and Child was placed in a thatched hut, like a stable, instead of in the church. But, on three (3) successive nights, the statue of the Virgin Mary and Child, Our Lady of Charity disappeared from the hut and was found on top of the hill above El Cobre in Cuba .


   The Virgin of Charity and the Christ Child resided in several small shrines until 1630, when the copper mine at Santiago del Prado, in El Cobre was closed down and the slaves were freed. Then Our Lady, Virgin of Charity and the Christ Child took St. James’ place above the high altar in the church, a symbol of the triumph of the Cuban people over the Spanish conquerors. In 1731, when an attempt was made to reintroduce slavery, Our Lady of Charity, Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre became a symbol of emancipation for one of Cuba ’s largest slave insurrections. In the end, the slaves were declared to be free. This action for freedom spread devotion further to Our Lady, Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Virgin of Charity.


   On the first day of the month of April in the year one thousand six hundred and eight-seven (1687), Juan Moreno at the age of 85 years reported this narrative in oral history as a notarized sworn statement, certified by ecclesiastical officials and archived for the record at the Archivo de Indias , Legajo 363, in Seville , Spain . (Source: from the Shrine of the Virgin of Charity in Miami , Florida , U.S.A.) 

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Comment by Gardenia C. Hung on April 17, 2011 at 10:06am

El Cincuentenario Aniversario de la República de Cuba

Para conmemorar el cincuentenario de la República, los obispos de Cuba han hecho una peregrinación por todos los municipios de la isla con la imagen de la Virgen de la Caridad, llamada "La Mambisa" por la guerra de independencia de los mambises patriotas de Cuba, que se halla expuesta al culto en la Iglesia de Santo Tomás Apóstol en Santiago de Cuba.


En retrospección, se inició el 20 de mayo de 1951, por el Monseñor Enrique Pérez Serantes, Arzobispo de Santiago de Cuba, en la escalinata del Santuario del Cobre.  Este acto dio inicio a esta peregrinación, la cual debería concluirse el 20 de mayo de 1952 en la capital de La Habana.  La peregrinación superó las expectativas de tal manera que fue una apoteosis de júbilo nacional en su amor a la Patrona de Cuba, la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.


"Nuestra Iglesia católica se llena de júbilo por la cercana celebración de los 400 años del hallazgo de la bendita imagen de la Virgen de la Caridad en la Bahía de Nipe, en el año 1612," según la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Cuba.


En el próximo año 2012, la Iglesia católica de Cuba invitará a todos los cubanos y feligreses alrededor del mundo a celebrar el gran acontecimiento de los 400 años del hallazgo y la presencia de la imagen de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, una celebración festiva para todo el mundo.  Viviremos intensamente ese Año Jubilar durante el transcurso del 2012, con actos e iniciativas hermanadas que expresen nuestro agradecimiento a Dios Padre por el gran regalo de María bajo la advocación de la Caridad.


El recorrido de la peregrinación del Año Jubilar en el 2011 comienza en la provincia de Camagüey desde el 30 de enero hasta el 12 de marzo; luego pasa por Ciego de Avila a partir del 13 de marzo hasta el 16 de abril; después llega a Santa Clara el 17 de abril hasta el 11 de junio; estará en Cienfuegos y Trinidad el 12 de junio; llegará a Matanzas desde el 17 de julio hast el 3 de septiembre; pasará por La Habana el 4 de septiembre hasta el 1ero de octubre; se pasará a Pinar del Rio desde el 2 de octubre hasta el 5 de noviembre; finalmente visitará La Habana desde el 6 de noviembre hasta el 10 de diciembre, a cual fecha retornará via aérea a Santiago de Cuba, Oriente.


De la parroquia de Santo Tomás salió la procesión de la Virgen de la Caridad en un principio, que recorrió todas las provincias de Cuba entre los años 1951 y 1952 en la Misión Nacional para conmemorar los 50 años de la independencia de Cuba, y volverá a hacer el mismo recorrido con una peregrinación nacional en el siglo XXI, entre los años 2010 y 2011, como preparación para celebrar el Año Jubilar en 2012 por los 400 años del hallazgo de la bendita imagen de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre en la Bahia de Nipe, Santiago de Cuba.


Origen:  Derechos reservados de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Cuba


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