General Information about the San Lazaro Devotion in Cuba
The devotion to San Lazaro in Cuba is second in importance in the Cuban religious context; only surpassed by the Virgen de la Caridad Virgin of Charity, patroness of Cuba. This veneration for San Lazaro (St. Lazarus) is almost always linked to Santeria and devotees offered great sacrifices, including flogging body. Every December 17th, many of this saint’s followers are dressed in sackcloth to come to the shrine, which is located in the Rincon Town, Boyeros municipality in Havana province. The effigy is placed outside the church because the Catholic Church does not recognize the San Lazaro who the devotees worship. A white sheet is placed before the saint, which serves to throw money. Nearby you can see a fountain from which a constant stream of water emanates. It is supposedly blessed by the deity and is carried by believers for purification and blessing. At 12 pm on December 16th crowd is silent before the advent of the Day of St. Lazarus. At that time the most important Mass of the day takes place and the rest of the time pastors remain attending the penitents, trying to ease his physical and spiritual pain.
The Devotion to San Lazaro in Cuba and some of its Particularities
Every year the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Rincon, a faithful expression of devotion to San Lazaro in Cuba, sums over 15,000 believers. This process takes place on the eve of December 17th of each year, and brings the official closure of vehicular traffic on the roads that access to Rincon. Local bus routes require special reinforcements to evacuate passengers and traffic yams occur in the wide avenues leading to the area. It is common for penitents to keep secret about the promise, which is part of the mystique that surrounds their actions and constitutes the prerequisite for San Lazaro to hear their prayers. There are numerous cases of families that save money during the year to make offerings to San Lazaro that day. Other faithful go there to pray and meditate their sentences before the image of the saint.