In April, we had another interesting group of Cuban visitors. Nick McAuliffe brought two Cuban artists and a Cuban cultural representative to visit Tolomato Cemetery, with a particular focus on the original burial site of the Cuban-born Fr. Felix Varela.
The group had come to town in connection with an exhibit, Cuba Views, hosted by the St. Augustine Historical Society at Tovar House, part of the Oldest House property.
Peter Larson came along to take the great photographs we have here. Below we see Nick McAuliffe with (l-r) the group’s interpreter, Soledad McIntyre, and artist Luis Eliades, cultural representative Jorge Nuñez Moto (President of the Union of Cuban Artists and Writers for Guantánamo Province), and artist Pepe Nieto. Luis Eliades is best known for his ink drawings, and Pepe Nieto is a graphic artist.
Nick gave them a tour of the cemetery and took them into the Varela Chapel, which they found a very moving experience. Fr. Varela’s story is well known in Cuba and he is particularly respected for his legacy of writings on educational theory and his love for his native land of Cuba. In the photo, Luis Eliades stands near the altar in the Varela Chapel, in front of a Cuban flag and the photo of the famous statue of Fr. Varela that is in the east courtyard of the Cathedral.
Luis Eliades takes a photo of the original marker on Fr. Varela’s original burial place (his remains are now in the chapel at the University of Havana) while Pepe Nieto gets a closer look at the statue.
Nick showed them historic photographs of the cemetery and chapel and explained the site. They were even interested in the newer features, such as this sign explaining the life and significance of Fr. Varela, who has been proposed for canonization and now has the title of “Venerable.” Next to the sign is Jorge Nuñez, and at the base of the sign, we see yet another tiny Cuban flag, left by an earlier group of Cuban visitors.
Our Cuban artist visitors seemed very impressed by Tolomato Cemetery, and perhaps we can hope that they will produce some artistic commemoration of their visit that you will be able to view on this blog one of these days!