The original Virgin de Regla was named after a seaport in the city of Regla, Spain, where her statue, with dark brown skin, is housed in a sanctuary there.
During the colonization of Cuba, the Spaniards founded a city on the bay of Havana, Cuba and named it "Regla," after the Spanish port. La Virgen de Regla then became the patron saint of the city of Regla in Cuba, as well. During Cuba's slave trade, La Virgin de Regla was syncretized with the Orisha (Yoruba deity) known as Yemoja.
Yemoja became known as the Orisha of the ocean. She is said to have accompanied the slaves across the middle passage. Having become one with Regla in Cuba's synchronistic religion of Santeria, Yemoja assumed the name "Yemayá."
To read a short essay I wrote about Yemayá as she pertains to this painting, click here.