CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 15:30 pm
September 8 marks the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For the faithful in Cuba - and other Hispanic countries - Mary is also venerated on this day under the title Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.
Images of Our Lady of Charity depict Mary standing on the moon and surrounded by angels, while holding the Child Jesus, who holds a globe in one hand and raises the other hand in a gesture of blessing.
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title stretches back more than four centuries, to when the original statue of Our Lady of Charity was discovered off the coast of Cuba, near the village of El Cobre.
Found by two indigenous laborers and a slave boy around the year 1600, the small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary appeared after a storm that hit while the three were out at sea in an old boat looking for salt. The men prayed for the protection of Mary from the storm.
They then spotted what first appeared to be a bird floating on the water but turned out to be an image of the Virgin Mary carrying the Child Jesus on her right arm, while holding a gold cross in her left hand.
The statue had been fastened to a board with the inscription: “I am the Virgin of Charity,” and, despite being found in the water after a storm, the white material the statue was clothed in was completely dry.
Devotion to Our Lady of Charity spread throughout the country. In 1916, she was officially named Patroness of Cuba by Benedict XV, at the request of war veterans.
In 2008, a statue of Our Lady of Charity was brought to the Holy See and blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. The statue was enthroned at the Vatican Gardens in 2014.