Outstanding Data on the Havana’s First Cemetery
On February 2nd 1806 the Havana’s First Cemetery was officially inaugurated. It is necessary to stand out that previously to the foundation of this first cemetery and during several centuries the burials in the island took place in the temples that were the places dedicated for the sepulchres. In these sepulchres from the most important aristocrats until the most unfortunate poor persons rested. Nevertheless, exclusively, the last habitation of all deceased had levels for the placement of the cadavers according to the social position that these they had reached in life. These burials in churches finally produced countless inconveniences, due to the fetidity of the cadavers that conspired against the public health and the good development of the religious cult. According to a royal command of the XVIII century that abolished such burials, these problems were solved.
The Havana’s First Cemetery and its History
In Cuba, the habit of the burials in the temples arrived to its end during Don Salvador De Muro and Salazar government – Marquis of Someruelos -, which was the responsible for the determination of the creation of cemeteries outside of the churches. This propitiated the appearance of the first Havanan cemetery that was the General Cemetery of Havana and whose limits embraced the current streets of San Lazaro, Vapor, Espada and Aramburu. This necropolis was known later on as Cemetery of Espada (Sword) and with this name it contributed to the work carried out by the Bishop of Sword and Moorland in the termination of this project. The Sword bishop covered with his capital all the expenses of the works and he helped to buy three black and same number of drays and mules to drive the cadavers to the cemetery. The constructive works began to be executed in 1804 under the direction of the architect Aulet and almost all the paintings that adorned it were executed by the Venetian painter Jose Perovani. The opening of this Cemetery took place with special solemnity on February 2nd, 1806. The initial procession led to the General Cemetery of Havana the remains of the former General Captain of the Island, Don Diego Manrique – exhumed of San Francisco’s Church – and those of Jose Gonzalez Candamo, Bishop of Milaza, – governor of the miter of Havana -, exhumed of the Cathedral. The chapel of the House of Charity that was located where it is today the Ameijeiras Brothers Hospital was the starting point of the funeral caravan that deposited in the new cemetery the bodies in two boxes of black velvet rewarded in gold. The following day it took place the first funerals in the Cemetery of Sword, which belonged to the white boy Jose Flores and to the brown woman Petrona Alvarado.