San Lázaro, Rincón, iglesia, peregrinación, devotos

Devotees of San Lázaro begin the pilgrimage to the Church of Rincón

HAVANA, Cuba.- Since the first days of December, hundreds of devotees of San Lázaro have made the pilgrimage walk to the Rincón Church. The saint that is venerated in Cuba, is presented in three stories, San Lázaro (biblical character, friend of Jesus and Mary of Betania), Lázaro (the beggar who appears in a parable from the gospel of Saint Luke) and Babalú Ayé (the orisha African that syncretizes with the previous two).

Devotees from all provinces, even from other countries, believers arrive to the Havana town of Rincón, located in the Boyeros municipality, to fulfill or make a promise to the saint who is also known as “El viejo Lázaro”.

“It is a walk to fulfill. They make a pilgrimage for various reasons, for devotion, for promises in the face of various problems (mostly health problems), although the economic factor is also present. San Lázaro is the miraculous, the saint most loved by Cubans who are suffering so many problems and we have not just seen the light at the end of the tunnel, that is why today you see so many people here paying their promises or simply asking for health and prosperity,” he told CubaNet Maritza Padrón, a university professor devoted to the saint who went to the church to “pay a promise.”

Devotees of San Lazaro. (Photo: Orlando González)

The current San Lázaro National Sanctuary (named like this in the 90s), was built in 1781 in the area where the Ameijeiras Hospital is located today. At the beginning of the 20th century it was decided to move it to the outskirts of the city, building the current complex in 1917 on the Dos Hermanos farm, in Rincón, Santiago de las Vegas.

The place has the title of National Sanctuary, granted in the 90s at the Conference of Catholic Bishops held in Mexico and every year the pilgrimage exceeds 15,000 believers.

“This year the prices of flowers, candles, sphinxes, postcards and everything related to the saint are through the roof. Inflation in Cuba is noticeable even in religion and unscrupulous people are taking advantage of that. The state is only present on the site through the police to monitor and if there is a political situation, to repress the people. This year the police surveillance is greater than in previous years and the days of greatest attendance have not yet arrived,” said Daynelis Costa, a housewife and reverent of San Lázaro who was in the sanctuary.

Devotees of San Lázaro begin the pilgrimage to the Church of Rincón
Sale of statuettes of Saint Lazarus. (Photo: Orlando González)

The devotion to San Lázaro in Cuba ranks second after the Virgen de la Caridad. From the 15th to the 18th of December the roads near the church are closed to vehicle traffic. The surveillance of the event is extreme by the authorities and workers from state entities are mobilized to stand guard in the vicinity of the place.

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