When we have a health problem, many of us Cubans turn to the Gods so they’ll help cure whatever ails us. San Lazaro, for example, is one of those deities who are most called upon.
He’s worshipped for his miraculous powers and is visited not only by Cubans, but also by foreigners in need of healing.
In 1992, I had an automobile accident in which my legs were badly injured. I asked ol´ Lazaro to place his hands on my legs so I’d at least be able to walk with crutches.
The following year I went to his church and offered my crutches in payment for my improvement; this was so that another person in need might use them. Starting from that moment, I left walking on my own two feet and haven’t stopped.
From then on, every year I’ve gone to his temple with whatever I can scrape together, preferably pennies and a candle to light in front of him. I beg him to ensure health and the strength to walk, not only for me, but for all my fellow beings.
This morning was one of those days I decided to go to the “Rincon,” as it’s known, some 45 minutes to Havana’s south-west. You have to catch three buses to get there, and even still the last stretch is almost always in a horse drawn wagon.
This time I was surprised when I saw how thin the people there were. They were to the point that couldn’t walk that one of them stopped and he/she didn’t want to continue the trip, we had to descend and to wait for another.
Finally we arrived. I entered, crossed myself and approached his chapel. Tossing the coins in a money box on his side, I lit my candle and began to make my request. On my side came some people who were crawling on their knees from the entrance of the church to fulfill their promises, something many people do on the eve of December 17, San Lazaro´s Day.