Stephanie Keith

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Location: Brooklyn, NY
Nationality: USA
Biography: Stephanie Keith has photographed news and features for the past fifteen years for the New York Times, Reuters, Getty Images and The New York Daily News. In 2017, Reuters, The BBC, The Guardian and NBC News chose a photo of hers from a... read on
Public Story
Cuba: Santeria
Credits: stephanie keith
Updated: 08/19/16
Location: Havana
Ever since I did an extensive story about Haitian Vodou in Brooklyn, I've always wanted to travel to another country in the Americas to take a look at the African Diasporan relgious tradition went to Cuba. I didn't know a single person involved with the religion when I arrived in Cuba for my nine days there.  But, with a little luck and some fast talking (in Spanish), I found a few examples in both the cities of Havana and Trinidad. What I found was that people are much more open about their religious beliefs in Cuba than the people outside of Cuba told me. Perhaps, this is due to a new feeling of openness in general in Cuba. I found that Santeria, for believers, is the opposite of hidden away and rather lived throughout their daily lives. I see this "story" I am presenting as sketches put together. I want to return to Cuba to go more fully in depth.

Also an interesting aspect of Santeria is that it is so closely tied to Catholicism. Churches dedicated to Catholic Saints attract both Catholic and Santeria pilgrims because the Saints exist in both religions. On top, is a statue representing the Black Madonna in the Church of Regla in Havana, Cuba on August 3, 2016. The Church of Regla is a sanctuary for La Santísima Virgen de Regla worshiped in the Catholic faith as patron Saint of mariners and worshiped in the Santería religion as Yemayá, the Spirit of water and the oceans. Below, is the Church of Rincon, outside of Havana dedicated to the Catholic Saint, Lazarus, who is patron saint of healing. In his Biblical story, he is a poor man with crutches who is risen from the dead by Jesus and cured of all his ailments. Lazarus is represented by Babalú Aye in Santería as the Spirit who heals health problems.

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