Every year on December 17 thousands of faithful Cubans participate in the annual pilgrimage to Saint Lazarus altar at the El Rincon Church on the outskirts of Havana. Every year, faithful from all corners flock to this chapel, many carrying offerings, to fulfill promises that they credit to the saint's intervention.
The annual festival is a time for believers to pay tribute to Saint Lazarus whose image is housed at the sanctuary built next to a Leprosorium.
Saint Lazarus is considered the patron saint of lepers and is often believed to intervene in miracles for the poor.
The traditional iconography for this saint is on crutches, with his sores being licked by dogs.
While the celebration echoes traditional Catholic teachings of sacrifice, some Cubans who follow the Afro-Cuban fusion religion of Santeria have combined the attributes of Saint Lazarus with the orisha or god Babalu Aye. Followers of this religion, brought to Cuba from Africa during the slave trade, invoke Saint Lazarus to heal health ailments.
The pilgrimage is one of the most important to Cuban Catholics.
by Locus Jan