"" Writer's Wanderings: Port of Call: Havana, Christopher Columbus Cemetery

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Port of Call: Havana, Christopher Columbus Cemetery

Continuing our Highlights of Havana tour, we stopped at the Christopher Columbus Cemetery. Our guide began a narrative about all the marble statuary in the cemetery but I lost interest. We stood so long in one place that my legs were beginning to complain. I started moving around a bit and snapping some pictures. The statuary was nice and made of beautiful white marble.

If Christopher Columbus was ever buried there it would have been for a short time. From all the stories we've heard his remains made quite a trip to many different places. There are two graves that were of significant interest though. The first was that of Amelia Goyre de la Hoz better known as the Miraculous Lady.

Amelia and her baby died in childbirth and she and the baby were laid to rest in the cemetery. When she was buried the baby was placed at her feet. Her husband was so distraught that for the rest of his life (17 years) he came to the grave every day and knocked on the gravestone to let her know he was there. He walked backwards as he left to gaze upon her longer. For some reason later, the grave was opened and it was discovered that instead of the baby being at her feet, it was in her arms.

Many make pilgrimages to the grave bringing flowers. They knock on the grave and hope that the miracle lady will fulfill their wishes--usually for a loved one or to have a family. They follow the husband's ritual of knocking on the grave and walking backwards when they leave. Our guide invited us to partake in the ritual if we wanted to ask for a baby. Then he looked around and said, "Well, maybe grandchildren."

The other monument that was significant was one dedicated to firefighters. The main dedication is to the firefighters who lost their lives in the great fire of May 17, 1890 in Havana. Apparently the firefighters ran into the building to fight the fire and the owner had neglected to tell them there were explosives stored there. Firefighters with at least five years of service can be buried there.

At the top an angel holds a fallen firefighter and around the base of the monument the faces of those lost in the great fire are on plaques. The chain around the monument is hung with teardrop shaped ornaments.

Several foreign nationals are buried here as well, notably some from the explosion of the USS Maine.

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