OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
In memory of the 150 years of his arrival in Guanabacoa, Cuba
“Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” in Guanabacoa, is for many families, alumni, Piarists, members of the UFEC (Union of Piarist Families of Cuba) and the Archfraternity, a reason for life that generates pride, gratitude and devotion maintained over time despite all the difficulties.
The circumstances that we live in times of pandemic, have made the 150th anniversary of her arrival in Cuba, that we celebrate it with simplicity, without noise and with all the affection, as Maria likes. These lines serve as a memory of an anniversary of all his devotees and deceased brothers of the Arch-fraternity of Our Lady, of the UFEC and Piarists.
In Issoudum, France, the Religious Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded in 1854. This devotion, which recalls the mystery of the Immaculate Conception along with devotion to the heart of Jesus, took on quite momentum.
The Piarists introduced this devotion in Cuba and America, Fr. Calasanz Bau tells us:
“Devotion to Our Lady del S. Corazón will turn our Church into a true sanctuary. The beginning of her cult is still prior to Father Parera, corresponding to Father Jofre. Fr. Pablo Marqués was the one who introduced a very humble first painting in November 1871. But on November 23, 1873, when Fr. Parera was Rector, the beautifully carved and polychrome image that is still venerated was brought from Barcelona.” (Hª de las EE.PP. en Cuba 1857-1957)
She was enthroned on 11/23/1873. At the diamond wedding, June 8, 1946, she was crowned by Msgr. Evelio Díaz Cía, and on the first centenary, on June 5, 1971, the new head of this church by decree of the Archbishop of Havana Msgr. Francisco Quer.
Reviewing chronicles and books, I found this sonnet of 1881, perhaps by Fr. Pablo Marqués (PM),
We transcribe a quote from the “Catholic Messenger”, number 490, year 1952. In this monthly and organ of the NSSCJ association. It describes the soul of this devotion:
” ́ Hope of the Forsaken’ in the words of St. Ephrem (…) We contemplate in the image of Our Lady the traits and attitude of the Mother who carries her Son in her arms. And we see Jesus with his heart on his chest pointing to him with one of his hands, while with the other he points us to his Mother, whose right hand holds the Heart of Christ; Mary affirms her ineffable power over the heart of her Son and Jesus confirms such power over her heart, as if to say: If you want to receive the infinite treasures that it encloses, direct you to my Mother, She can dispense them to your liking because she is never rejected. I have named her heavenly treasurer. It is therefore not surprising that this image awakens so much hope in those who suffer, even among those who feel most helpless.” (Fr. Girerd, “True Devotion to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart).
Experiences and favors received. It would be long the rosary of people and details that have been received, I concentrate on these points, I hope you all feel welcomed in them:
- Between these colonial walls of our church, I have seen alumni of the 50s, who have come to visit their home, remember and thank their youthful times and the education received. To see them crying with excitement and devotion praying at the feet of Our Lady, is something worth seeing.
- Here many of them were married. How many have told me!: Fr. Joaquín Hereu married me…, and they show me the photos.
- Others remember, how they put at their feet the desire for a son impossible to conceive and Our Lady granted it to them.
- Those who will never forget their last day in Cuba, who having to leave their beloved island in difficult times, said goodbye at the feet of Our Lady of her beloved homeland, before taking the plane, a Mass presided over by father Pastor González and a farewell to the son who dreams of returning one day to the mother’s house.
- Miracles kept in personal history: The girl who was born on October 19, 1965 and was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. Her parents asked Fr. Hereu to enter the church to plead with Our Lady to perform the miracle of saving her and not to go blind. When he returned home, the white spot on his right eye had disappeared. They decided to operate on her, and she never had a trace of that condition.
- Everyone is under the protection of this Mother who carries her in her heart wherever they go. For everyone, those who are on another earth and those who are here, NSSCJ is always invoked as a source of strength and hope. Many remember traditions such as:
The Mass for all those Associated with the Confraternity in the church of the Piarists on the first Sunday of each month.
The Masses on the altar of Our Lady, gratitude to our Waitress and Wardens, supplications and favors granted, baptisms, first communions, confirmations, the novena of each year with the preaching of FF. Munfort, Galofré, Carceller, Arcusa…
The chronicles of the 50s:
“The altar of the virgin full of gladioli, the great Salve and singing of litanies by the choir of Havana accompanied by instrumental and harmony, (…) the tears on the cheeks of those who remember year after year in the “Bronze Gates” those Piarists who with their songs praised the Virgin under the invocation of Our Lady of S.C. of J.
The solemn Mass, officiated by Fr. Manuel Arcusa, assisted by Fr. Masdevall and Marqués. Fr. Pedro Carceller in charge of the music. Fr. Modesto Galofré, rector of the school and director of the Arch-fraternity of Our Lady sang the glories of Mary… After the Mass, the Act of Consecration was made, the Medals were imposed on the new members and the Papal Blessing was imparted.” (The Catholic Messenger, June 1953).
All this has been maintained to this day in one way or another, NSSCJ has always been revered.
The testimonies, the chronicles of the community of the fathers, the songs, the novenas, continue to resonate between these walls, that they are asking for reparation and that Our Lady will know how to do it.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, we have postponed the celebration of this anniversary, which was to be celebrated on June 6, presided over by Cardinal Juan de la Caridad, an alumnus of the Piarist school of Camagüey. We will have a private celebration, and when possible, we will make the official celebration.
May Our Lady bless all her faithful devotees and welcome all those who have departed to the house of the Father. We especially remember the fathers who recently left us Salvador Riera and Iñaki Arriola. May she give her strength to those of us who are to continue to transmit her devotion.
Comment to the photo at the feet of N. Lady:
This photo is from November 2020, to remember everyone, as it is a representation of several generations.
In it are represented all his children (from left to right):
- Pablo González, alumnus. He carries in his wallet a picture dedicated by Fr. Agustín Munfort brought from Lourdes in the 50s.
- Gladys E. Valdivia, at 18 years old, was the first teacher of the children of our school.
- Isidore Alejandro Solernou. His family: three generations linked to the Piarists.
- Ada D ́Angelo, cousin of Andrés Castellanos, of the UFEC.
- Mirta García, who was married by Fr. Joaquín Hereu at the feet of Our Lady
“An irreligious people will die, because nothing in it feeds virtue” (José Martí)
Fr. Alberto Sola Sch. P.
 We will use in the text, for short in name, the acronym NSSCJ.