The visit to Our Mrs. Charity of the Copper Sanctuary, it is almost a place obliged for Cuban citizen and foreign tourists that come to Cuba. It is not necessary to profess Catholicism, Patron Saint of Cuba, as well as Virgin of the Copper is known, it is loved for many years. During Pope Francisco traveled to Cuba, he carried out a visit to that place in 2015.
The National Sanctuary (basilica smaller than Catholic Church), it is in Santiago from Cuba, at a distance of around 30km of this oriental city. The church is isolated in Hill of Quarry and it is most important place in The Copper town. It possesses two lateral towers with a main steeple, to their entrance there are 254 steps that it offers to visitors an unequal view, because it is accompanied by several Real Palms, Cuban national tree.
The national and foreign tourists arrive early in morning to enjoy landscape and to participate of liturgical celebrations that happen inside sanctuary. Others tourists prefer to stay hotels, in private houses or private hostel according to their likes and possibilities. Near to town of The Copper, it is “La Purísima” hostel, with two available rooms and with good conditions to rest, to enjoy vegetation and to have an enviable view, because when leaving one of rooms you can sight the Sanctuary of Copper in the distance, where branches of trees form a heart expressing values and humility with which their people receive those who visit these santiagueros places.
You can take taxis and vans (they call its “pisicorre”) from Santiago from Cuba that it has an affordable price and in near 20 minutes you already arrive to travel destination. To entrance of town of the Copper, in route to Sanctuary, diverse entrepreneurs offers products that you can be seen: bouquets of flowers (mainly sunflowers), cold coconut (special to drink and to refresh due to intense heat that exists in this oriental region) and handicrafts in diverse ways and sizes in allusion to Virgin of the Copper (key rings, necklaces, statuettes and other creativities).
After going up steps, an incredible peace is perceived inside church where you can appreciate different offerings that Cuban and foreigner visitors leave it to Virgin of the Copper. To light it a candle is almost an obligatory ritual for all visitors. It impresses each place, stained-glass window very well conserved in spite of lapsed time and effects of natural phenomenon’s that have affected the area. All want to take a picture to be taken of memory with bottom to the Virgin. Also, their visitors dedicate a time to prayer that it seemed an eternity due to tranquility, peace and love that it is plentiful in this sacred place in occasions. Their visitors generally when dedicating a time to Virgin of the Copper they request it health, peace and they promise to return to fulfill the Virgin.
The Virgin festival activities take place each September 8 that according to relate legend it was found in Nipe bay (north of Cuba) in 1613 when three people known in history by “the three Juanes” returned of looking for salt to French Key.
Virgin of the Copper keeps narrows relationship with Independence Wars against Spanish colony, specifically mambises. In fact, veteran of these wars requested to Pope Benedicto XV that he proclaimed Virgin as Patron Saint from Cuba. The declaration was made May 10, 1916.
Also known as Mambisa Virgin, it is linked with mambises and slaves. The own Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Cuba Homeland Father, visited Sanctuary to request to the Virgin for Independence of Cuba. In the same way, in a near hill to church a statue was built that remembers to slaves converted runaway. People that were brought forced from Africa and subjected to bad treatments, but they are surrendered homage in Copper town by their valiant and fearless decision of fighting for freedom before to die under conditions infrahuman and servility.
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