Bitter irony, part the whateverth
The Cliffs Notes on this:
Around 1608 three youngsters Rodrigo & Juan de Hoyos and Juan Moreno, left El Cobre (named after the copper mines) in Cuba in search of salt to preserve meat for the copper miners. Halfway across the Bay of Nipe they encountered a very violent storm and while the two older boys rowed and struggled to keep the boat afloat, Juan Moreno (apparently the family servant, depending on the version of the story) prayed fervently to Our Lady for protection. Eventually they all fell asleep, exhausted from battling the storm. The next morning they saw a small white bundle floating calmly across the bay, coming straight toward them.
It proved to be a statue of Our Lady affixed to a board and completely dry. It had the inscription "I am the Virgin of Charity." A shrine was built immediately, and instantly became a pilgrimage destination.
She was declared the patroness of Cuba by Pope Benedict XV in 1916. Then image was solemnly crowned in the Eucharistic Congress at Santiago in 1936. Pope Paul VI raised her sanctuary to a basilica in 1977. Pope John Paul II solemnly crowned her again on January 24th, 1998, saying:
During this celebration we will crown the image of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. From her shrine, not far from here, the Queen and Mother of all Cubans — regardless of race, political allegiance or ideology — guides and sustains, as in times past, the steps of her sons and daughters towards our heavenly homeland, and she encourages them to live in such a way that in society those authentic moral values may reign which constitute the rich spiritual heritage received from your forebears. With gratitude, we turn to her, as did her cousin Elizabeth, and say: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Lk 1:45).
In these words lies the secret of the true happiness of individuals and peoples: to believe and proclaim that the Lord has done marvellous things for us and that his mercy is from generation to generation on those who are faithful to him. This conviction is the force which inspires men and women to commit themselves selflessly, even at the cost of sacrifice, to the service of others.
Mary's example of readiness to serve shows us the path to take. With her, the Church fulfils her own vocation and mission, proclaiming Jesus Christ and exhorting us to do what he says, building a universal brotherhood in which every person can call God "Father".