One of the many fruits of my friendship with María Morera Johnson, is not only finding a friend who loves the Blessed Mother and the Rosary, but through her I learned about Mary’s title as Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba. Her full title in Spanish is La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.
Good friends teach you about stuff. They share what moves them. I visited María’s extended family in Miami in 2011. Part of that trip included a little pilgrimage to Our Lady of Charity’s shrine there, also known as the Ermita del la Caridad. It is dear to many with Cuban ancestry. When I’m there, I think of the many people in the course of my lifetime who have left their country under difficult circumstances. The shrine looks out to sea from the shoreline. I can only imagine how many prayers and tears have mingled with those waters that fill the 90-mile gap from Florida to Cuba.
I have been very taken with this title of Our Lady of Charity, and her patronage.
After that Miami visit I had an opportunity to write about the story of Our Lady of Charity. I’ve even been back to Miami two more times to visit the Ermita. I’ve prayed for my friend and her Cuban family members’ intentions both there and before the image of Our Lady of Charity that is in my home — a gift from the Morera family.
Over the years I have prayed that María would one day have a chance to make a pilgrimage to the original El Cobre shrine in Cuba, the country of her birth.
I think Our Lady had that same prayer.
The thing about God’s timing and God’s plan is that it is always so much better than anything we can ever hope for or imagine.
I would have never predicted that such a pilgrimage would include a selfie with the Pope.
María just returned from a pilgrimage to Cuba that coincided with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Cuba. It’s her story to tell. And I’m happy to ask you to read it.
Read her second installment about her Cuban journey, complete with the selfie with the Pope, over at Aleteia. Her first installment is here.
You can also follow María Johnson’s blog.
Oh, in other news, María has a book coming out in the next few weeks: My Badass Book of Saints…
One last thing… you see that little medal María is wearing in the photo above? I’ve never seen one until I met her. It’s Our Lady of Charity.
Update from 10.5.2015: An Offering to Our Lady of Charity in Cuba. This post really touched my heart.