The church of Regla, a place to venerate the sea

The church of Regla, a place to venerate the sea

Heritage & Traditions

CubaPLUS Magazine

Located next to the bay of the Cuban capital, the church of Regla is a bastion of the Virgin that welcomes you, since she is precisely the patron saint of sailors for having survived a great storm in the Strait of Gibraltar, while she was transferred by ship to Spain.


According to the legend, the image of Our Lady of Regla was carved by Agustín the African during the 5th century, and during the transfer, in the year 453 to protect it from the barbarians, the ship that transported it managed to survive a great storm, reason why the sailors decided to make her their patron saint.


With the arrival in Cuba of the Spanish conquest and colonization, the Catholic religion also arrived and the sailors, of course, brought with them the cult to their patron saint. Centuries later, specifically in 1687, the town of Nuestra Señora de Regla was founded, a port community that adopted the virgin out of devotion, where until then, an aboriginal settlement called Güaicanamar was located. It is then that a small and fragile parish was erected that was devastated by Hurricane San Rafael on October 24, 1692.


In 1793, the Sanctuary was opened in a modest building, although it was not until 1885 that the church was completed with its high altar. By public acclamation and the approval of the Catholic Church, the Virgin of Regla reached the title of Patron Saint of the Bay in 1814. This black virgin, venerated by Christians, carries a white child in her arms and, according to syncretism with the Yoruba religion, it is the orisha Yemayá, goddess of the sea.


Precisely due to the link that exists between the two religions, this church is visited daily by both Catholics and members of African religions, and every September 8 thousands of pilgrims come to this temple to celebrate the day of the saint, whose image is carried in procession through the streets of the town, a tradition that dates back to the 16th century.