Baracoa, Cuba: The Sacred Cross of Para
About Baracoa, Cuba & the Cross of Columbus:
The first colonial settlement founded in Cuba has the distinction of housing the cross planted by Christopher Columbus in 1492 as he discovered the new world. Among the notable leaders of this part of the island was Saint Anthony Mary Claret, founder of the Claretian Order, who was Bishop from 1849-1858.
Historical documents trace the planting of this cross on December 1, 1492 and tests done in Belgium verify the age of the cross to be from that time. It appears to be from a type of wood native to Cuba, so stories that it came from Europe would be incorrect.
The Cross was preserved, although it was not widely acknowledged since the local population feared that if too much was made of it then the cross might be taken to the larger city of Santiago, Cuba……which eventually occurred anyway. There is a representation of the cross placed outdoors at the actual location, while the cross itself is inside the Basilica.
About the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption:
As mentioned, the Cross was kept in Santiago for safety over the years and then later returned to the city of Baracoa, where it is kept in Our Lady of Assumption Church.
The Church is on the town square and easy to find. Baracoa itself is noted for its natural beauty and un-spoiled attractions.
Traveling to Baracoa:
The city is fairly remote, about 600 miles East of Havana, which means the best way to reach it is by air, or fly to Santiago de Cuba and travel by bus from there.
Address: Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Ciro Frias, Baracoa
Tel: +53 (226) 28502
GPS coordinates: 20° 20′ 50.7948” N, 74° 29′ 47.3604” W
Citizens from the U.S. cannot travel independently directly from the U.S at this time but must be part of a group. This is a change from previous policies where even private groups could not travel from the U.S. We believe that individuals can travel via Mexico but not sure if that violates the restrictions. In any case, we expect restrictions will further loosen in the next few years.
There is no official website for the Church that we are aware of, but click here for the City’s official website.
Have you been there? If so, tell us about it so that we can pass it on to others.