The Cuban religion is a rich mixture formed by the most diverse beliefs that include Spanish Catholicism and the Afro-Cuban cults. In the very center of all them, you find La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, as main figure and connection bridge that has become an unquestionable symbol of the Cuban culture.
The legend tells that three fishermen (Juan and Rodrigo de Hoyos, Indian brothers, and the small Juan Moreno, a 10 years old black slave) that went in search of salt , found the Virgin’s image in the waters of the bay of Nipe after a hurricane and still when she was floating among the waves, her clothes were not wet. Admired and full with faith they placed her in their canoe and transferred the virgen to a humble town where they built a shack that was Her first altar. After that, the Image was transferred to the town Real de Minas, very near the village of Santiago de Cuba, where there is the biggest copper natural reserve there, on the edge of the mine the people raised the first sanctuary, in the same place where today stays the church with the same image that in 1612 was found on the waters and it is today one of the most important pilgrimage places of the island. Intimately bound to the history, to the emergence of the nationality and the idiosyncrasy of the Cuban people, la Virgen del Cobre was declared in 1916 Patron Saint of the Cuban Republic as a result of a petition by the heroes of the Wars of independence and later she was crowned by the Pope Juan Pablo II in 1998.
This year, Cuba celebrates the 400 aniversary of the discovery of the Virgin’s image. Also for contemporary Cuban art, the Virgen del Cobre continues being a concept of enormous referential power, able to bring together the most diverse styles: identity and emigration, individual and the politics, the traditions and the conflicts of the current Cuban society are articulated with the Virgin’s image in an inexhaustible variety of representations that is a reflection of the faith of a country and of the richness and quality of the art that today is realized inside the island. The exhibition “Of the symbol to the metaphor… The Charity join us ” that was inaugurated on December 23rd in the centennial galleries of the old Seminario San Carlos y San Ambrosio – actually Centro Cultural Padre Félix Varela- is evidence of this.
More than 50 recognized Cuban artists of different generations gather their artworks in this exhibition that serves as closing to the pilgrimage that has taken the Virgin’s image along the whole island from August 8th last year and it also included an amazing concert with important Cuban musicians in the Cathedral of Havana. More than 70 photographs, installations, paintings, sculptures and digital art made up this show that, beyond the homage, is a review of Cuba´s history, focusing on the most universal of their symbols to build a message of dialogue and reconciliation for all of us.
To learn more about the important figures in Cuban art and culture, take one of our arts and culture holidays around the country.