Cuba’s national saint, the Virgin of Cobre, is revered by Roman Catholics and Santeros alike. There are pilgrimages to her altar in the small town of El Cobre, and celebrations in her honor nationwide.
Virgen de Cobre is the patron saint of Cuba. Although Cuba is not very Catholic compared to the rest of Latin America, Virgen de Cobre has a special place in the hearts of many Cubans. Her shrine is located at the foothills of the Sierra Maestra. According to Cuban lore, the Spanish tried to return her statue to Spain, but it fell overboard and got stuck in a reef near a Cuban beach, thus proving her devotion to Cuba.
Virgen de Cobre is usually depicted as having mixed heritage, one reason she is thought to be an appropriate representative of all of Cuba, since most Cubans have both African and mestizo heritage. In Santería the Virgen de Cobre is conflated with Ochún, the Nigerian goddess of femininity and rivers.
It’s customary to leave gifts at her shrine. Ernest Hemingway donated his Nobel Prize in literature to her in 1954.