The cult of Saint Lazarus is one of the most popular traditions in the Island. This worship emerged of the catholic and Yoruba religions and it is related to a poor leprous man, a friend of Jesus, revived in a biblical parable. Lazarus is compared to Babalú Aye, an orisha Yoruba, who was invoked to heal health problems.
On December 17th many believers travel from every part of the country to visit the Sanctuary of Saint Lazarus, in a place named El Rincón, 25 kilometres south Havana. It is a small catholic hermitage placed next to a hospital for persons suffering from leprosy. Visitors take their offers to that place and worship for the miracles received, mainly in terms of health, or just to pray for the familys welfare.
The holy books refer explicitly to different saints named after Lazarus. There is a Saint Lazarus, a bishop in the Bible, a friend of Jesus who lived in Betania and was Mary and Marthas brother. The latter was brought back to life by Jesus. June 21st, is the day of Saint Lazarus the leprous.
According to the Bible, Jesus retold the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. “Once upon a time, there was a rich man dressing in purple fine linens and dinning everyday. One day he found in his door a poor ragged man named Lazarus, who was pleased eating from the left over of the rich man. Dogs came to him to lick his wounds.
This saint is the patron of the hospital and of the military order in Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. The Cuban Saint Lazarus is a mixture of these two saints, plus the qualities and powers of the Yoruba God Babalú-Aye, healer God.
The Sanctuary of Saint Lazarus is opened everyday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. the day 17th of every month it closes at 9:00pm.