Havana, Cuba, Aug 28.- Pope Francis announced the placement of an image of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s Patro Saint, in the Vatican’s gardens and he sent greetings to the Cuban Catholic community.
The Virgin of Charity is closely linked to Cuban history and to the island’s independence struggle, Vatican Radio reported while giving the Pope’s announcement. The image accompanied freedom fighters against Spanish colonial rule. Veterans of the Cuban independence wars requested Pope Benedict XVI to crown the virgin, and they received his positive answer on May 10, 1916.
Eighty two years later, Pope John Paul II personally crowned the virgin on January 24, 1998 during a visit to Cuba.
The story goes that in 1962, two indigenous young men and a child of African descent were trying to get salt in the eastern bay of Nipe, where they came accross an image of the virgin floating on the sea.
On September 8, 1927, the Shrine of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre was raised on the Maboa Mountain, in eastern Santiago de Cuba as one of the most venerated religious sites in Cuba, with some 500 visitors every day.
The image of the virgin at the Vatican was made of bronze and was taken to Rome by Cuban bishops in 2008. (ACN)