Hoy es el día del “viejo Lázaro”: el santo de los enfermos

Today is the day of “old Lazarus”: the saint of the sick

CDMX, Mexico-. Covered in rags, half naked and with a body full of sores that their dogs lick to calm the tremendous martyrdom, the deity of Saint Lazarus, one of the most revered saints in Cuba. His day is celebrated every December 17 and devotees come to pay their promises almost always linked to health.

Last night a multitude of Cubans participated in the prayers and offerings before the sanctuary. “The corner”, as it is known, which is located 4 km west of Santiago de la Vegas, south of Havana City.

TeleSur reporter Fabiola López shared on her Twitter account the images of a Cuban who for 16 years has gotten there dragging a line rail. When her son was four years old, he was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, every year he walks from Old Havana, barefoot and with his iron on his back. His son who accompanies him is already 20 years old.

It is common around these dates for Cubans to travel kilometers walking or even dragging and barefoot as an offering to the miraculous. To ask for healing for themselves or their loved ones, some punish themselves for a year, while others carry heavy objects to the sanctuary or walk in chains.

According to historical research, there are indications that this date has been celebrated in Cuba since 1718. Although the first narration about it was written a couple of centuries later. Herminia del Portal described the panorama thus:

“San Lázaro this year 1953 comes with cold. The devotees have bundled up. The beggars, too. This has changed the appearance of the crowd. In the early morning the road is cold. And the parade has started shortly after midnight. The faithful line up on the side of the road.

“The rows advance without interruption, throughout the day. Devotees also arrive from beyond Las Vegas, and by all the roads, to the Hospital of San Lázaro.

Many parents to save a child from danger or illness have <> the saint. Those offered are like godchildren of Lazarito. They have to come at least once a year to visit him”.

Seventy years later, the panorama reviewed is very similar to that of today.

There is no single answer to explain the origin of this saint. San Lázaro is a religious representation that symbolizes Cuban syncretism. The patron of the sick and the one who can grant miraculous cures emerged from the meeting of the Yoruba and Catholic religions. The Lázaro that we know today is part of the triad made up of Saint Lázaro Bishop, Lázaro of the Biblical Parable and Babalú-Ayé. The main similarity between them is that they knew the pain of illness and had the gift of being able to heal the convalescent.

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