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The Colón Cemetery: The Legend of "La Milagrosa" (Second Part)

Among anecdotes about death, failed hopes and resignation, the legend of "La Milagrosa", which dates back to the early 20th century, stands out as a chant of love and hope in the Colón Cemetery.

Visitors to the well-known architectural monument dedicated to the dead are attracted by a small tomb always covered with fresh flowers and taken care with love and respect by many people.

The tomb, located at a short distance from the cemetery's Central Chapel, belongs to Amelia Goyri, known as "La Milagrosa", who died during childbirth on May 3, 1903, at the age of 23.

According to the legend, the baby did not survive either and both, mother and son, were buried in the tomb, which the inconsolable widower, José Vicente Adot y Rabell, visited every day.

Day after day, for many years, Adot faithfully visited the tomb of his beloved ones, whose deaths he never accepted by thinking that Amelia was asleep, so he used to wake her up with three knocks on the tomb, a sort of secret signal of complicity between the spouses.

The day the remains were to be exhumed, witnesses saw that the bodies were intact and, in a symbol of maternal love, Amelia was holding her son in her arms, so the tomb was sealed again and has remained like that until today.

View of the grave
La Milagrosa`s grave
Offerings to La Milagrosa

The legend of La Milagrosa inspired Cuban sculptor José Vilalta Saavedra, who in 1914 made a beautiful life-size sculpture of Carrara marble, representing a young woman looking up in a gesture of faith.

The statue's left arm is holding a baby, while the right arm rests on a Latin cross, which is regarded as a symbol of sacrifice.

As the legend of "La Milagrosa" spread throughout the city, Havana residents turned Amelia's resting place into a shrine where they could ask for protection for their children, for childbirth without complications or even for descendants for couples with no biological possibilities of conceiving, a habit that has survived until today.

The impressive marble figure of "La Milagrosa" is complemented by many chapels and pantheons built during the years, as a sort of temple to keep the tombs.

Those works, made in different architectural styles and of different materials, according to their date of construction and economic position of the deceased, are precisely one of the most outstanding characteristics of the graveyard.

Some 400 of these pantheons, many of which are dedicated not only to individual personalities, but also to charity societies and institutions, such as the Armed Forces Pantheon, are distributed throughout the cemetery.

In an extensive area where green vegetation contrasts with the cold white marble, memories become eternal and surround those who want to learn about that part of Havana's history, told amid the silence of its dead.

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