The Steps of the Virgin / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Work of Yordanis Garmendía

Yesterday, the residents of the municipality of Guanajay were filled with joy on the arrival of the statue of the Virgin of Charity to his city, as part of a pilgrimage that began on Aug. 8 in El Cobre, and has led to multiple cities in Cuba. This pilgrimage, which already totals 27,000 kilometers, something unprecedented in the Revolutionary era, will end next year (2012), marking four centuries after the discovery of the image of Our Lady of Charity del Cobre in the waters of the Bay of Nipe. In our territory, as in the rest of the country, she was received with profound signs of devotion and respect.

The visit to us today, at the Church of Santo Tomas in Santiago de Cuba, a church that witnessed the baptism of Maceo and has mambisa lineage. Yesterday she accompanied her people to the bush in the fight for freedom against Spanish colonialism; the Cuban people themselves are now open once more to her faith and asked her for a better future for their country. The Virgin who knew, then, the pain of war, the blood that stained her beloved fields, the cry of the Cuban who died not to live as a slave, today looks humbly on  the home of the poor, the prisoner’s cell, the patient’s bed, to the hope of a dispossessed people still clamoring for their unfinished release.

We all remember with joy that historic day when the image of the Patroness of Cuba was crowned by Pope John Paul II during the memorable homily at the Mass dedicated to the Virgin on February 24, 1998, in the Plaza “Antonio Maceo” also in Santiago de Cuba.

By some quirk of fate does the Virgin come to Guanajay on exactly the day five years later when I was officially notified of my disqualification to practice Medicine, October 2, 2006. At the time these words are published, the image of the Virgin is venerated by the people of Artemis, and will spend three days in this city and then continue their journey to the nearby Candelaria.

Mother: The Cuban people pray to you to produce the miracle of redemption. Deliver us from hatred for Cuba’s freedom comes through paths of prosperity, reconciliation and peace. Pray, Mother, for us. Amen.

October 3 2011