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Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s Patron Saint of Love

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By Ilsa Rodríguez / Photos by José Tito Meriño

Located on a hill in the town of Cobre in eastern Santiago de Cuba Province, the basilica of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre attracts many visitors from Cuba and the world who come to seek a miracle, repay promises or simply learn about an important spiritual symbol of this Caribbean island.

Declared the Patron Saint of Cuba in the early twentieth century by Pope Benedict XV at the request of thousands of soldiers and officers, who fought against Spain’s colonial rule, this copper-coloured virgin was later crowned by Pope John Paul II when he visited Santiago de Cuba in 1998.

As a result of Cuba’s established religious syncretism, the Catholic Virgin of Charity is venerated as Ochun by practitioners of the Yoruba religion, brought to Cuba by African slaves during Spanish colonial rule.

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