The Loma de la Cruz, originally known as the Bayado hill, is a small elevation of 261 meters above sea level that adopted its current name on May 3, 1790, when Franciscan Friar Antonio de Alegría placed a blessed wooden cross at the top of the hill, presumably to prevent epidemics and catastrophes.
The Loma de la Cruz became very important as strategic site at the beginning of the Cuban liberation wars on October 10, 1868, because it allowed to have great visibility, not only of the City of San Isidoro de Holguin, but also for long distances.
So, a tower called Numancia was built there, which was replaced by the Vigia fort the 1895 War. In addition, a heliograph was installed in the hill for the transmission of signals and messages by using mirrors that allow communication with other defensive systems defense in the region.
And, the construction of the round square, a small chapel, two lookouts and a 458-step staircase, began in 1927. The first stage of the construction was concluded in the early 1930s, and it was finally finished in 1951.
The work of Friar Francisco de Alegria brought about the religious tradition in Holguin that is known as “Romerías de la Cruz” (Pilgrimages of the Cross) in the image and likeness of those pilgrimages that are carried out in Spain which recall the day when Saint Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, found the Calvary’s cross, according to the Bible.
Likewise, the hill, illuminated and adorned for the occasion, receive devery May 3thousands of parishioners, accompanied by a military band or orchestra, who go up to the top for offering flowers, candles and stones at the base of the wooden cross where they make three wishes.
More than two centuries later, the tradition has been revived by young artists in Holguin who are grouped by the Hermanos Saiz Association, the organizer of the annual Romerías de Mayo Festival which turns the City of Holguin into the capital of young art.
As part of the celebrations, participants together with foreign guests climb the top of the Loma de la Cruz, and they carry with them the Axe of Holguin, the replica of the Taino aboriginal ax, also symbol of the city.
According to the program announced, Pope Francis will go to the Loma de la Cruz on September 21 for blessing the city and its inhabitants, after the Mass that will be held at the Major General Calixto Garcia Revolution Square.
Traduction by ESTI