SACBC MAY ROSARY MARATHON 20 May – Rosary for the end to the pandemic from the Shrine of OUR LADY OF CHARITY OF EL COBRE, CUBA

20 May – Rosary for the end to the pandemic from the Shrine of OUR LADY OF CHARITY OF EL COBRE, CUBA

Prayer Intention: For all pharmacists and health care personnel
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Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre is a popular Marian title of the Blessed Virgin Mary known in many Catholic countries. Several known Marian images with the same title exist around the world while a particular Hispanic image is pontifically designated by Pope Benedict XV as the Patroness of Cuba.
The present image is enshrined in National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre was built in 1926 is situated in village El Cobre, near Santiago de Cuba. A devotional rendering image of Our Lady of Charity, featuring the “two Indians” and an African passenger on its legendary ship.

The history of the Our Lady of charity of El Cobre began around 1612. The image is thought to have been brought by Spaniard colonists from the town of Illescas, a province in Toledo, Spain where a similar posture of the Virgin Mary of Charity is already well-venerated. Local legend recalls the Spanish captains who bring with them religious Marian images to guide and protect them from English pirates at sea. Two Native American or Indian brothers, Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos, and an African slave child, Juan Moreno, set out to the Bay of Nipe for salt. They are traditionally given the name the “three Juans”. They needed the salt for the preservation of the meat at the Barajagua slaughter house, which supplied the workers and inhabitants of Santiago del Prado, now known as El Cobre.

While out in the bay, a storm arose, rocking their tiny boat violently with ongoing waves. Juan, the slave, was wearing a medal with the image of the Virgin Mary. The three men began to pray for her protection. Suddenly, the skies cleared, and the storm was gone. In the distance, they saw a strange object floating in the water. They rowed towards it as the waves brought it towards them. At first they mistook it for a bird, but quickly saw that it was what seemed to be a statue of a girl. At last they were able to determine that it was a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus on her left arm and holding a gold cross in her right hand. The statue was fastened to a board with an inscription saying “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Much to their surprise, the statue remained completely dry while afloat in the water.

Overjoyed by what they had discovered, they hurried back to Barajagua. They showed the statue to a government official, Don Francisco Sánchez de Moya, who then ordered a small chapel to be built in her honor. One night, Rodrigo went to visit they statue, but discovered that the image was gone. He organized a search party, but had no success in finding Our Lady of Charity. Then, the next morning, she was back on the altar, as if nothing had happened. This was inconceivable as the chapel had been locked. This event happened three times. The people of Barajagua came to the conclusion that she wanted to be in a different spot, so they took her to El Cobre. She was received with much joy in El Cobre, and the church there had its bells ring on her arrival. It was at this point that she became known as “Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre”. Much to the dismay of people in El Cobre, the disappearance of the statue continued to happen.

One day, a young girl named Jabba was playing outside, pursuing butterflies and picking flowers. She went towards the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, where she came across the statue on top of a small hill. There were those who did and those who did not believe the little girl’s testimony, but in the end, the Virgin was taken to the spot of her discovery, where a church was erected for her.
Before the famous image on 19 May 1801, a royal edict from king Charles IV of Spain decreed that Cuban slaves were to be freed from the copper mines of El Cobre. The story circulated around the island quickly. Many felt that the Virgin purposely chose to have her sanctuary in El Cobre. Later folk legends associated the taking of copper materials to their homes after having it blessed near the Virgin’s sanctified image as a form of souvenir and miraculous healing.

The Cuban statue venerated measures about 16 inches tall; the head is made of baked clay covered with a polished coat of fine white powder. Her feet rest on a brilliant moon, while angels spread their golden wings on a silver cloud. The child Jesus raises his right hand as in a blessing, and in his left hand he holds a golden globe. A popular image of Our Lady of Charity includes a banner above her head with the Latin phrase “Mater Caritatis Fluctibus Maris Ambulavit” (Mother of Charity who walked on the road of stormy seas).

An antiquated image of Our Lady of Charity and her Cuban seers composed of mixed Mulatto races.
Cuban revolutionary leader Carlos Manuel de Céspedes presented the Cuban banner to the image along with his soldiers who wore a similar medal while Cuban general Calixto Garcia bowed at the image during a Holy Mass in honor of Mambises resistance. On 24 September 1915 the Cuban revolutionaries wrote a letter petitioning Pope Benedict XV to honor her as Patroness of their country. Pope Benedict XV declared the image and Marian title as Patroness of Cuba on 10 May 1916 at the written request of the soldier veterans of the Cuban War of Independence. Pope Benedict XVI received a brass sculpture of the image from Cuban bishops in May 2008 during their Ad Limina visit. Pope Francis enshrined the same statue in the Gardens of Vatican City on August 2014.

A chapel of Our Lady of Charity exists within the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In 1954, American author Ernest Hemingway donated his Nobel Prize in Literature medal for The Old Man and the Sea in thanksgiving to the image of the Virgin Mary at the shrine of Caridad del Cobre in Cuba. The medal was stolen in 1986, but was recovered days later upon the threat of Raul Castro, after which it was hidden from view. The medal is very rarely present in the image and only worn during solemn and Papal occasions.

On September 8, 1961, the Archdiocese of Miami celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Charity with 30,000 Cuban exiles at Miami Stadium. On the same day, a 16-inch replica of the statue of Our Lady of Charity was smuggled out of Cuba and arrived at the stadium. Due to the overwhelming Cuban devotion to this Marian title in 1966, the Archdiocese of Miami announced the construction of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity.  Construction was begun on the shrine, the following year on the shores of Biscayne Bay in the Coconut Grove section of Miami. The shrine was completed in 1973, built with donations by new Cuban immigrants.



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