Below are some adaptations of the image:
I think by now I've made my point. In looking at the original image and those images produced thereafter, commemorating the encounter of Our Lady with the three boys its readily apparent that there is something lacking. If it isn't, take a close look at both the original statue and how The Virgin is depicted and the later adaptations, but more importantly the three boys in the boat and compare them to the ones in the story. Pppsssttt..., the natives are absent and The Virgin is MUCH lighter in complexion.
While the lighter complexion is equally regrettable, not because she is fair skin, but because it takes away from a group one of very FEW depictions of The Virgin which they personally identified with (but thats another entry for another day (I'll be posting one about Our Lady of Regla which tradition holds was created by the very hands of ST. AUGUSTINE !!! ):
http://www.guije.com/public/bohemia/4936/fe/regla.jpg , It also happens to be one if not my FAVOURED image of The Virgin. The one pictured is a later adaptation. I'll be comparing the original with the later adaptations.)). Anyway, the fact that the actual parties involved have been deleted from the artistic/visual record is simply apalling. I mean in practically every account related to Natives and Catholicism, Natives are either depicted as being savagely (in the modern sense of the term) opposed to Christianity or as being good little "Indians" (I'm not contesting the usage of the term "Indian" here, but rather the fact that pious Natives are usually identified DEVOID of any ties to their people/Nation (being called "Indian" as opposed to Cree, etc. when being written of in biographies or being pit at odds with them, Indian vs. said Nation. For a discussion on a similar theme, post your thoughts here:
http://firstnationcatholicism.ning.com/forum/topics/3584762:Topic:79 ). Why then would officials within the Church (whether intentionally or not is another matter) allow for said depictions to be reproduced and obscuring the identity of individuals (in this case Juan and Rodrigo de Hoyos, the two native brothers) who are part of an underrepresented group within The Church ?
There is no one simple answer to this, but possibly a multitude of possibilities stemming from the colonial legacy of the DREADFUL Casta system which ranked individuals based on their skin tone and ethnic makeup (Yep this was present in EVERY Spanish colony (I don't blame present day Spaniards and other ex colonial powers.) and the aftermath is still felt to this day throughout ALL Latin America.). Here is a poster depicting said stratification :
I can't really offer an explanation, because well I am not the one reproducing the images. But the fact remains that the HISTORICAL/WRITTEN record still exists and would have thus been known to the people creating the images. One possible reason perhaps might be the fact that the two Natives had Spanish surnames, but then again the stories explicitly make it clear that they were two NATIVE brothers. They didn't make that same mistake with the African boy (who is the one who recounted the story), so what gives ? I'll leave that up to you my readers (Please leave your comments.).
Now below I have included images of Our Lady of Charity that are produced in folk Catholic circles or by practitioners of syncretic faiths (namely Santeria and the various Latin American forms of Spiritism (particularly those found in The Caribbean)).
Notice how the images above attempt to recapture the essence of not only the original image of The Virgin, but also of the men who found her image (particularly the last two images (Not that I am trying to give into stereotypes, but if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, its a duck.). Now all issues related to improper Catechesis aside (I'll be making a post one day on the phenomenon of syncretic faiths, folk Catholicism and catechesis as found in Latin America, particularly The Caribbean.), is it any surprise that individuals of these underrepresented groups flock to said circles ? Places where the pictures and plaster images/statues of Saints among other "spirits" mirror back the very faces of those that congregate there (Which reminds me, I need to do an entry on issues of ethnic/cultural heritage/identity in relation to Catholicism, especially concerning my own ethnic/cultural makeup.). Where in the histories of these colonial nation was there an example or representation of members of these under served groups in The Church hierarchy (I will hopefully get a chance to do a post on St.Martin de Porres and his struggle to get acceptance into The Dominican Order and the circumstances of his family life.) ? The fact is none if very few members of these groups ever achieved any level of influence within the Church at the time (even up until recent times this trend still holds true). Most if not ALL Priests in Latin America were brought over from Spain (up until very recently even), slowly now, you have modern Priests and Bishops coming from the native populations, this was not always the case.
As taken from here:
Now, the accuracy of the presence of two Indians in the original story is guaranteed by historical record. That fact makes the presence of whites in any image of this icon inaccurate, and yet modern-day devotees of the Virgin of Charity agree that, in visual representstions of the icon it is not inappropriate to include at least one Caucasian figure in the symbolic boat. The fact is that millions of poor and low-caste Cubans of European descent have suffered just as much as their dark-skinned brethren under the exploitation of the rich andthe powerful. This puts all Cubans, and by extension, all Caribbeans , All people, "In the same boat".
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments in the italicized and bolded portions.
So I leave you all with the contents of this entry and would REALLY appreciate your feedback and comments.
Below are some really great images from a friend and a fellow follower of the network of a Shrine to Our Lady of Charity in Tampa :