The Virgin of Regla, its history and its church, today National Shrine

Regla is a municipality of Havana with more than three centuries of existence. Its aboriginal name is Guaicanamar which means facing the sea and its origin is linked to the Virgin of Our Lady of Regla, Yemayá in the Yoruba Religion, which gives its name to the territory and its famous sanctuary

The church, now a National Shrine, was built in 1811 and completed in 1818. It is a simple temple, rather humble. There is also no ostentation in the black virgin, symbol and idol of the populated ultramarine, sworn in 1708 Patron Saint of the Bay, at whose feet the key of San Cristóbal de La Habana was deposited. She wears a simple blue dress, adorned with white lace that only reveals her face. The veneration that habaneros and Cubans feel for her is as big and deep, as old and interesting is her story.


According to several sources, the Virgin of Regla is originally from Africa. It is said that it was carved in the fourth century, in dark wood, like the skin of Africans, by order of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, born in that land, after having had this a revelation in which an angel indicated sculpt it. The name that was engraved at the foot of the image was erased and forgotten, but it is said that it was called “Virgin of the Rule of St. Augustine” or “Virgin of the Rule” because under its custody is the rule of the Augustinian friars .



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El primer milagro que se le reconoció fue el de haber hecho que el diácono San Cipriano, quien no era marinero, la salvara de la invasión de los Vándalos, atravesando sin percances el peligrosísimo estrecho de Gibraltar, por lo cual la virgen llegó a ser muy apreciada por los marineros católicos. Su segundo salvador fue el Prior del Convento de Ermitaños de Chipiona, quien la escondió en un pozo en el cual permaneció por varios siglos. Fue encontrada por un canónigo de San Agustín, residente en León, justo en el Convento de “Santa María de la Regla”, a quien la propia virgen le reveló en una visión el lugar en que se hallaba.

In Cuba the virgin began to be adored from the year 1687, in an oil painting located in the first hermitage of guano raised in the then Guaicanamar, which was destroyed by the cyclone of 1692 and that later it was raised again, in the same place, but of masonry. In 1696 Don Pedro de Aranda y Evellaneda, Castilian, brought from his first trip to Spain the statue of the black virgin, probably acquired near the convent of León, where he was placed on September 8 of that same year.

Since then the devotion for it grew and multiplied, to the point that two altars had to be erected in 1708, because the one that existed was no longer enough to welcome all the faithful from distant places, who came to pay homage to him. They also went to the temple many believers of the Santería or Rule of Ocha, in which the virgin represents Yemayá, Orisha mayor, the owner of the oceans, mother of life and of some gods in that religion. This syncretism was born because the slaves were forced to convert to the Catholic religion and through the saints venerated by it, they worshiped their African gods. The Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, for example, identifies with Oshún. Both are mistresses of the storms, protectors of the sailors.

Currently, every September 7, Havanans and Cubans from all over the country, residents inside and outside the island, Catholics, santeros, atheists, agnostics, people of all ideologies and races, curious and foreign tourists passing through the country , they go to the sanctuary to attend the feast of Our Lady of Regla. This day the procession takes place where the Virgin with all its ornaments, Catholic priests and other ministers of the church participate, the censers are waved, religious songs are sung, while prayers are raised for all that is loved and yearned for, they are fulfilled promises and is requested by Cuba.

To get to Regla, the ideal means of transport is the little boat. It is the most efficient and fastest in the City. It crosses the bay in 7 seven minutes and goes to that location every 15 minutes from the Emboque de Luz. A new and modern maritime terminal, located in Old Havana, the historic center of the city. 


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