Basílica de Nuestra Senora del Cobre is Cuba’s most sacred pilgrimage site, a site of miracles attributed to the “Black Virgin”.

According to local legend, the black virgin of El Cobre – also known as”Cachita” – was discovered in the Bay of Nipe in 1608 when 3 fishermen caught up in storm spotted a 30 cm high wooden statue floating on the water.

el cobre _3

The object depicted the image of the black virgin and was inscribed with the message “I am the Virgin de la Caridad”. In her left hand she carried the child Jesus and in her right, a golden cross.

Saved from the fury of the waves the thankful fishermen took the statue back to the small copper mining town of El Cobre, 20 km northwest of Santiago de Cuba, where over the ensuing years, the virgin is said to performed a multitude of miracles and wondrous deeds. In her honor a hermitage was built and in 1916 Pope Benedict declared the Virgin of El Cobre to be the patron saint of Cuba.

The current basilica was built in 1927 and in 1988 she was crowned and blessed by Pope John Paul II.

In the room of miracles Cubans have left memos, letters, medals, CDs, baseballs, etc, attributing their luck, health or success to the virgin.

Ernest Hemingway left his Nobel Prize for Old Man And The Sea here; once on view within a glass case (until some idiot stole it … It was recovered. But now it’s hidden from public view.)

I left my card amongst stuff on the table: THE CANDY TRAIL … was here.