jueves, 16 de diciembre de 2010

A worship full of national identity: San Lazaro

Throughout time the church of El Rincón was turned from the small chapel of a leprosy hospital into Cuba’s most important pilgrimage center. The first reconstruction works on the Catholic church began in 1936 (...) In Cuba the two images kept from the old leprosy hospital are those of San Lázaro, Bishop and Martyr, and that of the Lazarus appearing in Jesus Christ’s parable -the most cherished and worshiped by Cubans (...)

In this parable there are two characters: Lazarus, a beggar, and a rich person who doesn’t have a name (...) This beggar is characterized by simplicity, by suffering and symbolizes the poor and people suffering. (...) Drawings and paintings represent this San Lázaro usually dressed with bandage, according to the Jewish habit of dressing the dead with short cloths, which contributed to its resemblance to the African deity Babalú-Ayé, who is sick and dressed with rags. (...) That’s how devotion came to Cuba, very close to hospitals and leprosy hospitals the same as in Europe.

There is an important reason why thousands of people from all over the country go to the Sanctuary of El Rincón: a promise. “Promises imply a secret personal commitment –according to priest Suárez Polcari-, even when this promise is fulfilled publicly and constitutes the main motivation for men and women to take part in pilgrimages and celebrations in churches and, essentially, to go to the sanctuary”.

Laciel Zamora (Cuban Journalist. He is the author of the book about the worship to San Lázaro in Cuba)

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