This article is a compilation of several short articles published during 2014, in an event hosted on my website that celebrated a month of devotions to Our Lady. Edited and revised for this blog, it presents four of the more important Advocations of Mary worshipped in our island: Our Lady Of Candelaria, Our Lady Of Coromoto, Our Lady Of The Valley and Our Lady Of El Cobre. These advocations have been chosen not only for their relevancy in our Curanderismo tradition, but also for their connection to Latin America and the religions of the African Diaspora.
Our Lady of Coromoto
Our Lady Of Coromoto is the patroness of Venezuela, and also one of the patrons of San Cristóbal De La Laguna, the town where we live, so it is not only another proof of the constant Latin America – Canary Islands connection, but also one of our dearest advocations of Mary.
Says the legend that when the town of Guanare (Venezuela) was built, the Native Indians moved to the north of the town, into the forest. On September 8 1652, Our Lady appeared to the Indians, encouraging their chief Coromoto to convert. While many Indians converted, Coromoto didn’t, so Our Lady appeared to him again days later, this time materializing a wooden icon that is right now a relic at her Sanctuary. Again, Coromoto refused, but many years later, he finally converted after being healed from a venomous snake bite through the rite of baptism. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady Of Coromoto patroness of the country.
The veneration of Our Lady Of Coromoto is essential to Maria Lionza’s religion. She is considered to be one of the heads of the Celestial Court, and prayers for her presence and intercession are part of every important ritual in the religion. In our islands, she is mostly revered locally, where she has a small church and a whole neighbourhood named after her – and, of course, by the huge Venezuelan population that lives here, and by anyone who has emigration and/or immigration ties with the country, like me. There is also a statue of her at the Saint Ann church in the town of Candelaria (Tenerife island), another at the church of the town La Guancha (also Tenerife), and another in the island of El Hierro. In the 19th and 20th century, Coromoto has remained a very popular female name here.
Our Lady Of The Valley
Right after Our Lady Of Coromoto, the beautiful advocation of Our Lady Of The Valley is probably the most revered in Maria Lionza’s religion. While she was already worshipped in Spain before the colonisation of Venezuela as the advocation of the Immaculate Conception, her importance in Venezuela, and the change in her name to Virgen Del Valle (Our Lady Of The Valley), begins when the image is moved from the island of Cubagua to the Valley Of The Holy Spirit in the island of Margarita, after floodings damagd her original sanctuary. Her feast is September 8 – which is, I’m sure you know, the day of Ochum :) – and she is considered as patroness of sailors.
Just as Our Lady Of Coromoto, her worship is well known in our islands, and Valle remains another popular Canarian female name; although, in truth, it is very difficult to find further information about her, besides the stories of her many miracles, and the fact that she is considered one of the non-official patroness of Venezuela. The fact that she is considered patroness of sailors comes from the story of a pearl hunter who got stung by a stingray; the wound got infected and gangrenous, so the sailor promised Our Lady Of The Valley the first pearl he would find if he was healed. He was indeed, and the first pearl he found not only had the shape of a leg – it had a very clear mark in the spot that would correspond with the sailor’s leg scar.
Caridad Del Cobre / Our Lady Of Charity / Our Lady Of El Cobre
Our Lady Of El Cobre is the patroness of Cuba. Although part of the Our Lady of Charity advocation, in this country, and for most practitioners of Afro-Latin spiritual traditions, it has a completely distinct personality and legend.
According to the legend, around 1612, three fishermen (two native Indian brothers and a black man) were out to the sea in a small boat – a storm started, and the three men prayed to the Virgin Mary for help; the waters quieted, the clouds disappeared, and the men saw something floating in the waters towards them. Over a small plank of wood, they found a statue of Our Lady – in the wood, the words “Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad” (“I am Our Lady of Charity”) could be read. Her first sanctuary was built near the local copper mines, starting the nickname of Caridad Del Cobre.
In 1916, she was declared patroness of Cuba, but her importance in Afro-Latin religion goes way beyond that, as she is syncretized with Ochum, Orisha of love. Their feast day is celebrated on the same day, September 8. And, once again, the relationship between Afro-Latin religions and the Canary Islands is brought to light by the fact that the Caridad Del Cobre advocation is patroness of Cuba, and also of two Canarian towns: Azanos, in the island of Tenerife, and Gallegos, in the island of La Palma.
Note – I do not own the copyright of any of these images. They are shown for educational purpose only, and no copyright infringement is intended.
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