Saturday, December 28, 2013

Our Lady of El Cobre named Virgin Mambisa

An excerpt from Juan Moreno’s follows:   

“And the overseer, very happy and without delay, sent immediately Antonio Angola with the news about the Lady to the Captain don Francisco Sanchez de Moya who administered the mines of the place so as to dispose what was to be done.  And while the news arrived they placed in the residential house of the cattle ranch a wooden altar and over it they placed the Holy Virgin with a light. And with the news don Francisco Sanchez de Moya sent an order to the overseer Miguel Galan to make a house in the cattle ranch and to place there the Image of Our Lady of Charity and always keep her with a light… And to the admiration of all, three lights appeared and were seen during three consecutive evenings and then they disappeared near the quarry at the old mine.  Due to this miracle they chose the place where they had seen the lights for the hermitage and holy house of Our Lady of Charity who is on the said hill performing many miracles with the devotees who call on her.”

A shrine to Our Lady of Charity was built next to a copper mine near the place where a miracle occurred.  Pilgrimages appealing to Our Lady for miraculous remedies were frequent and a hospice was added to accommodate them in the 1920’s.  El Cobre was traditionally home to the native peoples pushed to the less hospitable end of the island first by the Carib and later by the Spanish colonials. Runaway slaves and imported Chinese farm laborers and miners sought refuge there as well.  

In 1998 on his visit to Cuba Pope John Paul II gave Our Lady of El Cobre the title Virgin Mambisa meaning she represented their struggle for freedom.  This came to be a symbol not only for the inhabitants of the pueblo of El Cobre, but for the whole multiracial Cuban population after the Communist takeover.