Next September 8 will mark 400 years of the mystical appearance of the image of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, saint patroness of Cuba. Her arrival in this land forever transformed the idiosyncrasies of those born into it, and now, four centuries later, those who worship her maintain a faith that transcends the logic of reason.
The chronicles tell us that "it happened in the early seventeenth century […] In a small canoe, three workers looking for salt […] plied the waters of the eastern and northern Bay of Nipe. […] When they saw floating in the foam of the gentle waves, a small whitish lump them seemed to be a bird, the day began to dawn and they paddled to reach it. "
"Her clothes were dry despite sailing on a weak board, in which some big letters read: I am the Virgin of Charity ".
Since then is revered by Catholics and adored by the uprooted sons of Africa and their descendants, who see in her Oshun, the goddess of love and money, the ruler of freshwaters.
Cachita, as it is popularly known, has been glorified by embodying the sacred values of a nation that was forged in the contrast between the salt of sweat and sugar cane, the blood of its martyrs and the hope of a bright future for their children.
After its discovery, the Virgin was taken to Hato Barajagua, and three years later, out of concern for the continuing disappearance of the image, it was taken to the town Real de Minas, now known as El Cobre in the Santiago del Prado copper mines, just 19 kilometers from the town of Santiago de Cuba.
Alive thanks to one of the largest copper veins open America, the new headquarters would be the final, according to tradition, by choice of the Virgin herself.
At the edge of the mine, the miners built the first sanctuary, in the same place where today is the church that preserves the image of who is the repository ever since of the prayers of millions of Cubans.
There are several changes the property has undertaken to become the current Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, because of some natural phenomena such as the earthquake of 1852, and others for constructive improvements.
The image of Our Lady of Charity is linked to national history, it protected the miners in their repeated rebellions and became Mambisa when protected her children in the battlefields during the effort of building a free and sovereign homeland from the Spanish colonial yoke.
It is no coincidence that in 1915 the Veterans of the War of Independence wrote to His Holiness Pope Benedict XV to ask him to make her the Saint Patroness of Cuba.
The request was answered in years of the pontificate of Pius XI with the canonical coronation of the Virgin in 1936 by Monsignor Valentin Zubizarreta, then Bishop of Santiago de Cuba.
Praying to the Virgin is the goal of the thousands of people who attend each year El Cobre, the act of faith through which everyone prays for his family or for all and deliver their offerings in the Chapel of Miracles, it is held as an unquestionable argument of its importance for the Cubans.
In search of spiritual solace and solutions to various problems, from every corner of Cuba arrive those who invoke Her grace by prayers for health, personal success or the search for a better future.
By way of thanks worshipers leave there jewelry, epaulets, Olympic medals, baby clothes and other items involving common devotion and belief in the miraculous nature of the venerated image.
The belief in the divinity of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre has stood the test of time, for four centuries is the repository of the hopes and dreams of those who see in it the possibility of a prosperous future.
That faith becomes a monument to resistance of an idiosyncrasy that can overcome colonial powers, neocolonial imperial, Protestant religions, dialectical-materialist ideologies, external and internal blockades and stand as the owner of a piece of the best and purest of each of us.