Saint's Day in Las Tablas

Today will be a very special day in Las Tablas, where their patron saint Santa Librada, or St. Wilgefortis, will be honored in processions.

In 1671 the Spaniards reached the port of Mensabé bearing a statuette of Santa Liberata. When in 1862 another image arrived floating inside a box, with an inscription stating "this is Santa Librada", the townspeople adopted this second name. She is nicknamed "La Chola", a term for Indian or mestizo ancestry, for her dark skin color.

Aida Díaz, a patron saint festival committee member, explains that the saint's devotees offer tokens of appreciation for the miracles performed. One year these jewels were stolen and then mysteriously appeared a few days later in the church. She is enshrouded in so much gold that her garments must be locked up in a bank vault, the only saint in the country who requires such security measures.

Historical records describe how Santa Librada came to be one of nine sisters born to her mother, after she refused to help a woman who had three children, which at that time was looked down on since their husbands were at war. That woman had told her, "I hope you have triple what I have." And so it was.

Tonight serenades will be sung to "La Chola" at midnight. Yomira Jones will be among the participants.