HAVANA, Dec. 17th The largest religious pilgrimage of Cubans dedicated to San Lazaro has a common denominator in the requests of most of the pilgrims. This year the thousands of devotees who traveled the route to the National Shrine entrusted the saint with the miracle that does not come: prosperity and reconciliation.
Until the day of December 16, the eve of the celebration of San Lazaro, the Catholic temple located in the town of Rincón, Santiago de Las Vegas, recorded the attendance of more than 85 thousand people.
The priest Elixander Torres Pérez, rector of the National Sanctuary of San Lazaro, explained to CubaNet the attendance of the devotees on the eve, as well as the main requests that took this year for the saint.
“Until four o’clock in the afternoon, more than 15 thousand pilgrims have come to the temple since the Church opened at seven thirty in the morning (…) Normally the desire for peace prevails, but this year they have especially asked for prosperity and the reconciliation of the same family on the island with the one outside of Cuba. “
CubaNet walked with the devotees along the 4.3 km road that joins the town of Santiago de las Vegas with the Catholic Sanctuary. During the hour of road necessary to overcome the distance, we verified through the interviews made to the believers, that the desires of prosperity and reconciliation prevailed in the hope of the pilgrims.
While taking a break from the long walk along the pilgrimage route, 29-year-old Gissel Benites assured CubaNet that her fatigue was not physical:
“This walk is not the main sacrifice that Cubans make (…) I have faith in San Lazaro, things are going to change for us. They have to change, even if it’s a miracle. “
San Lázaro, the beggar venerated by Cuban believers, is linked to the syncretic figure of Babalú Ayé. He is also called “the miraculous” because of the history of testimonies about the miracles wrought in his devotees.
Throughout the year more than a million Cubans have gone to the Sanctuary of San Lazaro. Since 2012 the Catholic Church began a count of visitors, becoming independent of the official count made by Cuban institutions.
The new image of the chapel
The celebration of the saint in Cuba is motivated by the blessing of what is now known as the National Sanctuary of San Lazaro. To renew the image of the Church on December 17, 2017, when the centenary of the building of the Shrine was completed, the image of Lazaro the beggar was moved to the main altar, replacing that of San Lázaro bishop.
“It is a Catholic tradition to place the patron saint of the sanctuary high,” Elixander Torres, priest said.
Located in the space gained by the devotion of those who have blind faith in the San Lazaro beggar, chosen by the Cubans to venerate, the miraculous is committed to listen to them.