Cuba’s patron saint stands for more than religious dominance

Posted: 17-Nov-16 13:23

If you’re not Cuban, there’s a good chance the fascinating story of how the island met its patron saint may well have passed unnoticed. Which is a shame. Cachita can be found in the former copper mining town of El Cobre, and sets an example in terms of tolerance, unity and acceptance.

Cuba’s patron saint stands for more than religious dominance

A 15-inch tall wooden statue of the "Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre" (Virgin of Charity of El Cobre), Cuba’s patron saint, can be found in the small town of El Cobre, a short distance from Santiago. But how the statue, also known as also known as "Cachita", came to reside there is less clear. In order to understand why, and grasp the real significant of this religious artifact, we need to turn the clock backwards a century or three, to a time long before the Communist revolution, and indeed long before the country gained its independence.

Welcome to the year 1612, then, and a small bay in the north of Cuba. Here, a ten-year-old black slave, Juan, and two indigenous men, discovered the statue of "Cachita" while rowing out to an island with a view of harvesting salt. The previous day had been terrifically bad weather, but despite the havoc this had wreaked on vessels out at sea, somehow this tiny Virgin Mary effigy had survived. Perhaps even more astonishingly, she had survived with the cloth of her dress completely intact and bone dry.

Returning to land, the men proceeded to El Cobre, which was a major economic hub, and set about constructing a shrine to house the statue, and today this is one of the most significant religious sites on the island. The figure has outlasted the Spanish occupation, seen the war of independence turn in the favour of Cuba, and even managed to survive the long spell of isolationist communism the country is still governed by, during which the most important aspect of life has always been State, as oppose to faith.

Needless to say, it’s easy to see the major Christian motifs in the yarn about how she came to be here. Revealed not to men of the cloth or wealth, but everyday people, she would go on to gaze upon, and impact on the lives of, everyone from invading Europeans to imported forced labour from Africa, and the original population themselves, setting a strong example of how faith should mean people are blind to the differences that many men (and women) consider separates them from their neighbours.

Of course the lack of real evidence, word of mouth aside, does mean this might not necessarily be exactly how it happened, but as per Emilio Cueto and John F. Ross’ recent article for The Smithsonian, the item is truly important nonetheless, and as such should be high on any visitor’s agenda to say the least. 


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £599 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £629 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
sercotel club cayo guillermo

Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo

3.0 stars

The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
tryp cayo coco

Tryp Cayo Coco

4.0 stars

The perfect beach holiday awaits you the all-inclusive Tryp Cayo Coco hotel, where non-stop entertainment and utmost...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £699 per person
memories holguin

Memories Holguin

4.0 stars

Enjoy a perfect beach setting while you unwind in the historic sands of the all-inclusive Memories Holguin. A short...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us