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Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban Devotion to Mary Helped Me Grow in Faith and Love


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Introduction  ix
1.Mary Rescues Us from the Storm:
The Story of the Virgin of Charity  1
2.Mary Embraces the Dignity of Her Children:
The Colonial Period  17
3.Patroness of Cuba:
The Virgen Mambisa  33
4.Love Unites Us:
Celebrating Our Lady of Charity  53
5.Ermita de la Caridad:
Miami’s Shrine for the World  71
6.How Devotion to Mary Led Me
to Her Son, Jesus  87
Final Word 105
Acknowledgments 107
Notes 109
Bibliography 111

Maria Morera Johnson grew up knowing the virgencita—the Virgin Mary—and had a special love for Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba.

Even after Johnson moved to the United States, Our Lady of Charity continued to influence her life. In her new book, the bestselling and award-winning author shares her childhood recollections of the devotion to the patroness of her native country and stories of how Mary helped her deepen her faith and led her to Jesus. Johnson also invites you to know Mary in a new way and to allow devotion to the Blessed Mother to help you open your heart to others and to grow in faith and love.

The origin of the devotion to Our Lady of Charity in Cuba comes from a seventeenth-century story of three men who were tossed about at sea during a violent storm. They prayed to Mary for her protection and the storm suddenly disappeared. They found a statue of the Blessed Mother holding Jesus and a gold cross floating in the water. The statue included the inscription: “I am the Virgin of Charity.” The statue was completely dry as it floated in the water.

Our Lady of Charity is not a Church-approved apparition; nevertheless, several popes—including St. John Paul II and Pope Francis, who celebrated Mass at her shrine during his visit to Cuba in 2015—have supported devotion to Mary under this title.

Johnson, author of the bestselling My Badass Book of Saints, traces the history of Our Lady of Charity in Cuba and how the devotion was spread by emigrants as they left their country behind. Johnson weaves the story of the devotion with Cuba’s history, memories of her homeland, and tales of her journey back to Cuba for the first time since her childhood during Pope Francis’s 2015 Apostolic Visit.

Throughout Our Lady of Charity, Johnson shares her devotion to Mary and passion for her Catholic faith. This evocative spiritual memoir is part history and part memory, part modern-day travelogue and part meditation on the role faith, family, and devotion have on how we live and love.

Dimensions5.5 × 8.5 in
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