"I'm the Virgin of Charity"

The original image of Our Lady of Charity was found in the northeastern part of the island of Cuba in 1612, floating on the waters of the Bay of Nipe. It was spotted by two native Indians and an African slave child, who had gone out to look for salt. Tradition remembers them as "The three Juanes". The image was on a small piece of wood with the inscription: I'm the Virgin of Charity.

IInitially, they took the image to a small town called Barajagua and sometime later it was taken to the parish of El Cobre, from where the image would frequently and mysterious disappeared and would have to be returned to its place. A young girl named Apolonia insisted that she had seen the image on El Cobre hill. After a time of prayer, the villagers saw a glow on the hill, so they built a small shrine on the spot and moved the image there, the same place where she is today, in the National Shrine and Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Charity.

On May 10th, 1916, in response to the request of the veterans of the Cuban Wars of Independence, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Our Lady of Charity the Patroness of Cuba. On January 24th, 1998, during the visit of the Pope Saint John Paul II to Cuba, his holiness crowned the image of the Virgin of Charity as “Queen and Mother of all the Cuban people”.