Catholic footprints in the streets of Habaneras: Calle Reina

By L.N.A. Ω

Calle Reina

The origin of this central street dates back to the road of San Antonio Chiquito, an ingenuity that was located west of ancient Havana. Reforms and improvements were made along the way in 1735. In 1751 a small chapel dedicated to St. Louis of Gonzaga, a young Jesuit saint, was built. Its location was close to what is today the corner of Belascoaín Street. From that moment on, the street assumed the name of said saint, sixteen years before the expulsion of the Jesuits on June 15, 1767. Some sources claim that in the remodeling of the road and in the construction of the hermitage, was the influence of the Jesuits. They already had properties in the area. The hermitage was demolished on June 8, 1762.
New street renovations were carried out in 1836. In 1844 it was wooded and benches were placed on it. In homage to Elizabeth II she was given the name Queen. James of the Pezuela in 1863 said that it was: “The most regular and wide of all the roads of the capital and perfectly straight […] it has road pavement and forms a section of the general walk that was devised in 1842 by the underinspector of engineers Don Mariano Carrillo for public carriages […] In width, uniformity and symmetry is superior to all other streets of Havana”.
In this important artery Bishop Espada had his residence and somehow it is true that he has been linked to the Jesuit parents. From 1913 to 1923 they built one of the most beautiful and important churches in the city, that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
On October 9, 1918, under agreement number 377 of the City Council, it was renamed again to Avenida de Simón Bolívar. Its official name is still that, although for the capital population it will always remain Queen. Its main landmark is the church with the well-known sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its main gate.

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