When we write about the history of the Shrine, we cannot forget about a magnificent work of art: the mural. Many hands worked on it anonymously, but the best testimony can be offered by the artist that was in charge of the project.
We will only add the biographies of the patriots and other relevant figures portrayed in the mural for a better understanding of its message.
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The mural of the Shrine
By Teok Carrasco
I began to work on the mural that measures 747 square feet and where you can find 63 figures, on July 16th, the festivity of our Heavenly Mother under the name of Our Lady of Carmel. I started with the Child Jesus and the Virgin Mary holding Him. Then I painted the last picture that represents the exile, with a boat escaping from slavery in pursuit of liberty.
Then I started to work on the Cuban saint Archbishop Antonio María Claret, who worked so hard to proclaim the Gospel everywhere, and especially in my province of Oriente. At that time, I had to go into Pan American hospital to have another operation for cataracts in my second eye, since the first one had been a success. I went into the hospital blind of one eye, but trusting that my Heavenly Mother would not forget me in her prayers to the Lord, and I was back before I expected it with both my eyes ready to complete this work that I had wanted with all my soul to offer to the Virgin.
I used to come every night with my assistant and good friend Orlando Cabañas. I kept on painting after having done it all day long, but I didn't feel tired. I did this mural with so much love that it kept me inspired all the time.
I would read the history of Cuba and I listened to the stories told by the most authorized people from our country. I would like to thank all of those that provided information, and made easier the gathering of knowledge that precedes the composition of a painting.
Sometimes I painted until one in the morning, and I have painted for 364 hours.
Our Lady of Charity
In the middle of the mural I placed the Virgin, carrying in her arms our Savior: Jesus. He is the center of the entire mural. I started with the Child and left it unfinished so I could leave for the end He who was the first. With this gesture I wanted to remember that Christ is the first and last, the beginning and the end, the alfa and omega of every man and every country.
Surrounding the Virgin I placed our history, a compilation of it, because our entire history would not fit in one mural. I selected the subjects as one selects the members of a family. The ones not present are represented by the ones that are there. Charity does not allow envy. I can synthesize my message in these words: CUBAN PEOPLE CAN FIND THEIR SALVATION IN THE ARMS OF OUR LADY OF CHARITY. Jesus Christ is the only Savior given to us by the Eternal Father, through the woman that is BLESSED AMONG ALL WOMEN.