- At the end of the article we share the documentary video.
Immense is the faith that surrounds the cult and veneration of Saint Lazarus in Cuba.
Ancient traditions and accompanying family ritualsañan the celebrations of the saint, every December 17.
The documentary "In you I put my faith", collects the experiences of the pilgrims of the parishioners to the National Shrine in El Rincón, which begins on December 16 and lasts until the night of the 17.
The religious force, the faith in the miracle and the promises to honor and thank the saint respond to numerous issues that have been gaining space among the religious and cultural traditions of the Cuban people.
But, how did the cult of San Lázaro arrive in Cuba?
Specialists indicate that devotion to San Lázaro arrived on the Island in colonial times, from Spain.aña.
The settlers venerated the Saint Lazarus of Bethany of the Catholic saints, presented by the Gospel as a friend of Jesus, brother of Martha and Mary and resurrected by God.
The Saint Lazarus that the Spanish brought to Cuba was the one recognized by the Church of Marseille as the first bishop of that city.
Why did the devotion to Saint Lazarus become so popular?
Historians indicate that in España there were many lazarinos, say of those who suffered from the so-called evil of San Lázaro, leprosy.
And soon a legend began to spread indicating that conditions existed in Cuba to cure that terrible disease.
Popular belief said that the blood of the turtles that nested on many of the island's beaches was the cure for leprosy, so many patients came to the country bringing the worship of Saint Lazarus and hoping for a miracle.
Although this cure, of course, was only a legend, the cult of miraculous Saint Lazarus remained in the population and became stronger with the process of syncretism that united Yoruba cults with Catholic beliefs.
What is the Saint Lazarus that is worshiped in Cuba?
In the San Lázaro that Cubans adore, there is the confluence of several religious factors.
For example, the Catholic Church recognizes Lazarus of Bethany and Lazarus, the protagonist of the parable of the rich and the poor, told by Jesus as a way of conveying a moral to his disciples and followers.
One of those Lazarus was the poor sick beggar full of sores who was followed by several dogs to lick his wounds.
Those two figures together Babalú Ayé, Yoruba Orisha de plagues and diseases, formed a syncretism that gave rise to the popular Cuban cult of San Lázaro, the miraculous protector who carries crutches, to whom the people ask for the miracle of healing.
What characterizes the veneration in honor of Saint Lazarus?
The cult of Saint Lazarus in Cuba is fundamentally characterized by pilgrimage, since in almost all religions there are sacred places to which devotees travel, generally on foot, to meet the deity and receive his blessings.
Thousands of Cubans come each year to the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary located in El Rincón, in the Havana municipality of Boyeros.
Many go to thank Saint Lazarus for his blessings and miracles by bringing offerings, flowers, candles and even pay their promises by flogging.
Some have spent more than 10 years fulfilling a promise made to the saint and thanking him for his help, and they fervently believe in the effectiveness of asking the deity for a miracle.
Even though many devotees do not know the history of Saint Lazarus, they allege that it is a tradition in their family to venerate and honor the miraculous protector and fulfill all kinds of promises made to the saint for the sake of guiding their lives and warding off evil.
Why the syncretism with Babalú Ayé?
The patakí tells that Babalú Ayé had to respect women one day a week, that is how Olofin established it. If he didn't, he warned her that a heavy curse would fall on her.
But Babalú Ayé did not heed the warning and the next day, he woke up with his body full of painful sores.
They say that his only companions were the dogs, who talked to him and relieved the pain of the sores, licking them. In the end, Babalú Ayé died due to his illness.
But the beautiful Oshun felt very sorry and asked Olofin to forgive him.
Thus, Babalú Ayé was resurrected and completely changed his way of life, devoting his efforts to curing illnesses and helping the disadvantaged.
The syncretism between San Lázaro and Babalú Ayé has occurred due to the representative elements of the cult that are common to both deities.
Furthermore, sacrifice and faith in the miracle prevail in the veneration directed at the saints.
Babalú Ayé grants great favors, but he must always be attended to, because he always charges.
For this reason, in addition to the adoration they feel for him, the devout Yorubas show immense respect and even fear in the veneration of this Orisha.
virtues and promises the devotees of the old man travel
Patience, suffering and illness in the flesh are some of the elements that have made the figure of Saint Lazarus closer to the devotees.
The immense faith in those who suffered the rigors of illness and pain, helps believers to trust in the miracles of the saint, as many of them have expressed.
For this reason, strong promises are made that, as many religious indicate, can be a source of consternation for those who do not share the belief or do not know it.
But when you talk to those people who decided to carry immense weights, go on their knees or crawl to the doors of the sanctuary, it is recognized that their belief is worthy of respect and that it carries with it a tremendous sense of sacrifice and will.
When the stories behind the promises of thousands are heard, the difficult crossroads and circumstances that many face are known and that it is in faith where they find shelter to move forward.