The Church of Regla, Across the Bay from Old Havana

Miguel Arias Sanchez

The Virgin of Regla Church. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Every time I’m in Cuba at Easter time, I religiously visit our parish church in Regla. Of all the things somebody from Regla remembers, wherever they find themselves in the world, it’s this church.

It’s located at the end of the town, along the sea and just a few meters away from the famous wharf where boats take us to Old Havana.

The conservation and care of the church is of particular interest. Just recently, there were was a general restoration: masonry work, lights, paint. If you walk closer to the church, you can appreciate how clean it is, its exterior paint gives it a beautiful touch. Likewise, the refined touch of those who work there, their friendliness, always available and ready to answer any questions.

Regla’s Church has its own history. One of the most remembered dates takes us back to 1957.  When the day for celebrating its virgin and taking her out in a procession throughout the entire town drew near, the rebel 26th July Movement kidnapped her as a symbol of their dissatisfaction with the Batista dictatorship.

Consequentially, the Virgin didn’t parade through Regla that year on September 8th as it does every year. Days after that date, she was left in a remote place in Cojimar, with a bunch of flowers and an explanation from those young Cubans, asking for forgiveness for having done what they thought was necessary at a critical juncture in Cuban history.

Every September 8th, pilgrims from all over the capital and municipalities, come by sea or land to the town across Havana Bay, to prove their veneration and respect for the Virgin, with flowers, candles and all kinds of different offerings.

The tribute is completed with a procession, with the virgin image paraded around the Church by locals and visitors as an undeniable symbol of their deep respect for her.

“Yemaya, the Virgin of the people of Regla.”

Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.