Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is it Time Yet?

Did 19th-century priest predict Castro's death?
An obscure Cuban legend, based on the reported vision of a Spanish priest 150 years ago that tells of a bearded leader who rules with an iron fist and dies in his bed in the fourth decade of his reign, has gained fresh currency with the recent illness of Cuba's dictator, Fidel Castro.

According to a strong oral and written tradition preserved by the Catholic congregation of Santiago de Cuba, a Spanish priest, sent to the city to be it's archbishop in the 1850s, had a vision of Cuba's patron saint, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, in which she told him of a coming Cuban leader who bears an uncanny resemblance to Castro.

San Antonio Maria Claret arrived in Santiago – Castro's home province – in 1851. Pastoral duties took him into the Sierra Maestra – the mountainous region from which Castro launched his revolution and seizure of power in the late 1950s. While riding on horseback, he later told his congregation, the virgin appeared to him in a vision to tell him of Cuba's future.

According to the legend, she spoke of a "very bold young person" who would arise from those very mountains – armed, bearded and triumphant. He would be accompanied by other bearded men with long hair. They would arrive wearing the medal of the virgin around their necks, but soon would deny their belief in it.

The young leader would be acclaimed by all because of many popular reforms, but little by little, he would seize all the power, weighing down the Cuban people with an iron dictatorship that would last 40 years. During his 4 decades in power, Cuba would undergo numerous calamities and shortages. The bearded leader, the prophecy said, would die in his bed.

A short period of instability, conflict and bloodshed, would follow his death, but "soon" Cuba would rise little by little to an outstanding position among the nations.

I have been a bit melancholy lately which, in my case, leads me to memories of childhood which seem sureal. A quieter time, slower pace, narrow stone streets, a walk along the sea wall with my parents a small town nestled between the mountains and the sea. I would very much like to visit this place which seldom comes to my conciousness, walk those paths again, visit the church where I was baptized and did my first communion, see the house where I was born. I wonder how it all is and how accurate are the memories I hold, memories of a child surely romanticized by the passage of time.

In that sort of mood I came cross this interesting prophecy, the stuff of legend that one longs to be true. The details do seem rather interesting!With things changing in the land I once called home, maybe the fulfillment of this vision will at long last come to pass...and maybe soon I will get a chance to visit the place of memories... Time will tell. Is it that time yet?



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