The charm of Havana’s Caracoles Chapel

A sui generis chapel, dedicated to Cuba´s Patron Saint, has stood in the old Havana neighborhood of Santos Suárez for almost 80 years. Its facade, plastered with seashells, made it different and attractive, as Elsa María Cortés writes for Cuba Headlines. 

The oldest neighbors in the area say that chapel, located in San Benigno St., between San Leonardo and Rodríguez, was built thanks to a “miracle” that the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre bestowed on Lorenzo Romero. 

Romero was a professional bricklayer, who once slipped from a very high scaffold. While he was falling, he prayed for the Virgin to save him and vowed to build her a chapel if he survived, as a token of gratitude. Nobody is sure whether the Virgin heard his prayers or his good luck helped him, but the truth is that the good man survived and honored his promise. 

The neighbors collected thousands of seashells during months for the construction of the “Caracoles (Seashells) Chapel.” They were used to plaster the entire facade and the indoors shrine. A beautiful Cuban flag, also assembled with identical shells, stands out in the façade. 

Romero lived many years after building the chapel. He enjoyed an excellent health and an enviable sense of humor. They say that during almost 50 years he impersonated popular character “The Macorina”, in the Charangas of Bejucal. He would dress as a woman and accompanied the carnival parades. He died in 1968, at the age of 88, but he is still remembered as the man that built the Caracoles Chapel.

For the original report go to

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