The devotion to San Lázaro.


   © Photos and Text: Margarita Fresco

The devotion to San Lázaro in Cuba is ranked only second to Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity). This veneration is almost always linked to the Afro Cuban culture where is known as Babalu Aye, the African orisha of Lucumi origin, which is merged with Lazarus the beggar in Saint Lucas Gospel.

Every December 17 many of his followers dress a coat made of sackcloth trimmed purple, which are the characteristic colours of this saint or orisha in the afrocuban religion. His shrine is in El Rincon, a neighbourhood out of La Habana. The penitents on that day pay the promises made to the saint in exchange of health, prosperity, etc.

We may see many people paying very heavy promises like walking on their knees, leaving flowers, handing alms to poor people and a big deal of sacrifices inconceivable for those who are not familiar with this cult. In this zone of El Rincon we may see images merchants selling San Lazaros and other images belonging to the Cuban Santeria… plaster casts painted. Cuban people are very devout, they held the beliefs in the orishas, carried to Cuba by african slaves during spanish colonization. .