There is only one tomb at the Colon cemetery in Havana city that is always covered by flowers. Part because of the legend that surrounds Amelia Goyri de la Hoz, “La Milagrosa” (The Miraculous One), tradition and faith have turned the site into a place of worship.
The tomb is now a symbol of motherhood, love to children, and eternal passion between two lovers, and it is is located a few meters from the chapel of the cemetery and there every day comes a procession of the faithful, which is multiplied exponentially every second Sunday of May (Mother’s Day).
But how and why Amelia became the comfort and hope of many? The story of the Miraculous One of Cuba has transcended time with its ritual and respect from a people, believers and non-believers, to the spiritual greatness of tradition.
It is said that Amelia was born on January 29, 1877, daughter of Francisco Goyri and Magdalena de la Hoz, but together with her three brothers she lived with her aunt in the Palace of the Marquis de Balboa located in Egido 14. She grew up in this place, where she fell in love with a second cousin named Jose Vicente Adot Rabell.
Separated by social prejudices and the participation of José Vicente in the 1895 Independence war, the couple fulfilled their dream of being together with a wedding on June 25, 1900. Some time later they were brimming with happiness because the first seed of their love started growing in Amelia’s womb. But their happiness would turn into sorrow.
When she was eight months pregnant, Amelia suffers a high blood pressure episode and despite the efforts of the obstetrician and gynecologist Eusebio Hernandez, both mother and daughter died. For José Vicente this was a hard blow, and so he showed for forty years until his death.
They were buried in the vault of Gaspar Betancourt and Peza, the widower’s friend, and the baby was placed between her legs, as was the custom at that time. From that moment, the unfortunate husband did not miss his daily visit, who had no idea that the ritual of love he dedicated to his beloved would last for more than a century.
José Vicente used to hit the tomb with one of the four rings from the top of the crypt, as knocking at a door, always the one closer to the heart of Amelia, to wake her up so she could hear the things he had to say.
Later, the famed sculptor José Vilalta Saavedra gave José Vicente a work in white marble that recreated the image of Amelia carrying a child on her left arm and this was placed on top of the tomb.
In front of the sculpture ensemble, José Vicente added other actions to his daily ritual: after talking with his beloved, he removed his hat and placed it on his chest; he walked around the sculpture and walked away without ver turning her back to it. You never turn your back on a lady, least of all to my beloved Amelia!, he used to say, according to the legend.
Thus, legend of such a fervent love grew, people started talking about supernatural powers, and all efforts José Vicente made to keep Amelia to himself were in vain. Something happened that threw this love story into the realm of real-wonderful stories. When in 1914 the grave was opened and José Vicente wanted to see his beloved one for the last time, the story goes that she was intact and carrying the child in her left arm, as sculptor Vilalta had designed his sculpture.
The tomb of La Milagrosa is full of flowers over a hundred years after the death of Amelia Goyri de la Hoz. The charm of this faith is that it is not governed by any institution, political or religious; that it is the product of the belief of the people; it was born on a path of flowers, ring blows, and prayers, and a walking away without turning the back to the beloved image.