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Pope Benedict XVI to Arrive in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 26 (acn) Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Cuba this Monday after a three-day visit to Mexico, his first trip to Spanish-speaking countries since he started his pontificate.

His Holiness will be received in an official ceremony this afternoon at the Antonio Maceo International Airport in Santiago de Cuba, some 765 kilometers east of Havana City.

Afterwards, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Revolution Square in that eastern Cuban city to mark the 400th anniversary of the finding of the image of the Cuban patron saint Our Lady of Charity.

In November 2011, Benedict XVI announced his intention to travel to Cuba and Mexico, after having visited Brazil in 2007.

Recently, the Holy See condemned the US economic, financial and commercial blockade against Cuba.

“The Holy See considers it is something that makes people suffer. It doesn’t achieve any higher goal” said Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi.

The Holy Father’s schedule in Cuba will wrap up next Wednesday 28, after a mass in Havana city.


Santiago de Cuba Ready to Receive Pope Benedict XVI

SANTIGO DE CUBA, Cuba (acn) Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo Revolution Square and the National Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Caridad, in the town of El Cobre, are decked out to receive the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff and head of the State of the Vatican, who will arrive in this city from Mexico on Monday afternoon.

Consulted by the National News Agency, Architect Juan Ramon Navarro, Designer of the Archbishopric and main responsible for the works, highlighted that actions of maintenance and repair were carried out in the sanctuary as well as in the guesthouse, the parking lot, the house for retreat, exteriors, and the parochial house, the Cubadebate Web site reported.

He underlined the construction of a residence with the conditions of comfort, privacy and safety necessary for the nighttime rest of the Supreme Pontiff and his entourage, where a direct view to the Virgin’s Chapel was taken into account.

With regard to the square, he said it’s the best arranged and oriented spot with dimensions and infrastructure available to place the presbytery where the Pope will say the first mass the day of his arrival.

Navarro highlighted the green color of the historical monuments’ staircase, suggestive of the city’s mountains, from where the white steel altar of wooden platform begins.

Decked with pointed arches typical of classical religious architecture, it’s designed to bring to mind the silhouette of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre -Cuba’s Patron Saint- and the  blue color of the sea where she was fond four centuries ago, a line of sight that can be seen  from any of the city’s high points, he stressed.

Other preparations for the religious ceremony at Santiago’s square included the placing of the coats of arms of Cuba and of His Holiness Benedict XVI, as well as carpets on the staircase and the platform.

Also placed over the weekend were the furniture, such as the altar used for the mass by Pope John Paul II during his visit to that place in January, 1998, and the see of San Antonio Maria Claret, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba in the 19th century.

As informed by Father Jorge Catasus, the Pope will receive, as special presents of Cuba, all the scores of the work of Esteban Salas, edited by musicologist Escudero, as well as CDs recorded by the Ars Longa music group, and the album “La Caridad de El Cobre. Virgen de la esperanza” (The Caridad del Cobre: Virgin of Hope), recorded under the Bis Music label.


Pope Benedict XVI Begins Three-Day Apostolic Visit to Cuba

Santiago de Cuba, Mar 26 (Prensa Latina) Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in this eastern Cuban city on Monday for a three-day apostolic visit to Cuba that will include public masses, tours and meetings with government and religious authorities.

The Pope was invited by the Government and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, in his condition of Supreme Pontiff and Head of State of Vatican City.

This visit is part of the Jubilee Year for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre, the patron saint of Cuba.

Benedict XVI's activities will begin with the official welcome at the Antonio Maceo international airport, from where he will go to the Archbishopric of Santiago de Cuba.

His Holiness will officiate an over two-hour mass at the Antonio Maceo Revolution Square.

On Tuesday, Benedict XVI will visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre, and will travel to Havana later.

In the Cuban capital, Benedict XVI will be welcomed by President Raul Castro and will officiate a two-hour mass on Wednesday at the Jose Marti Revolution Square, a place also prepared for the religious celebration.

Some hours later, His Holiness will return to Rome.

The Pope will arrive in Cuba from Mexico, as part of his 23rd apostolic tour and the second one to Latin America, after visiting Brazil in 2007.

Benedict XVI's visit is considered the continuity of the one paid to Cuba by his predecessor, Juan Pablo II, in 1998.


Broad Media Coverage of Benedict XVI's Visit to Cuba

Havana, Mar 26 (Prensa Latina) About 800 journalists from more than 30 countries have been accredited in Cuba to cover the apostolic visit of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, starting on Monday.

Nearly 300 national and foreign media organizations will be able to give a broad coverage of the Pope's activities in the second visit and stay of a Supreme Pontiff to Cuba, after the visit paid by John Paul II in 1998.

Pope Benedict XVI's agenda will consist of visits to eastern Santiago de Cuba and western Havana, where press rooms are available for radio and television broadcasts and articles.

According to organizers in Santiago de Cuba (Melia Santiago Hotel) and Havana (National Hotel), journalists and reporters will be able to take part in press conferences related with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, his meetings with religious and government authorities and tours on his popemobile.

National and foreign media is particularly interested in the masses the Pope will officiate, and the Cuban press announced live coverage of his main activities in Cuba.

The head of State of the Vatican will arrive in Cuba from Mexico, as part of his 23rd apostolic tour and his second tour of Latin America, after visiting Brazil in 2007.


The Virgen del Cobre will have Pride of Place at the Papal Mass

HAVANA, Cuba, March 26 (acn) The first mass officiated in Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI after his arrival in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba on March 26 will begin with the entrance of the image of the island’s Patron Saint, which, “from her altar at El Cobre and in an exceptional way,” will be taken to the Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, as informed by Archbishop Dionisio Garcia.

In a message broadcast by national television on March 23, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba recalled that the main purpose of the Pope’s visit is “to participate in the celebrations for the Marian Jubilee Year,” in honor of the 400 years of  the presence of the Virgen del Cobre among the Cuban population, the Cubadebate  Web site reported on Saturday.

Garcia, also president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba specified that, in this way, the saint “will be closer to the Cuban people, represented by pilgrims from all provinces, by Cubans living abroad, and mainly by the people of Santiago de Cuba.”

Likewise, he said that the image of the Cuban virgin, originally of the eastern city’s Santo Tomas Church, will be present in the liturgy to be held in Havana on March 28, since it will be brought in procession from the Cathedral to the capital’s Jose Marti Revolution Square.

During his address at the El Cobre Sanctuary, Garcia invited the entire population, believers and nonbelievers, to participate in the welcoming and in the masses to be said by the Holy Father, and to follow by television the visit of the Pontiff to El Cobre on March 27.

On the other hand, the religious leader informed that, in 2008, Cuba’s bishops invited Benedict XVI personally and officially to take part in the Marian Jubilee Year of the Caribbean island, during the visit they should pay every five years to the Vatican.

The program of Benedict XVI, second Pope to visit Cuba in the history of the nation, includes saying masses in public places, paying tribute to the Virgen del Cobre and meeting with Cuban authorities, as part of his apostolic and at the same time official visit.


Cuba: Cultural Landscape El Cobre Declared National Monument

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 26 (acn) The Cultural Landscape of El Cobre and places located on the path through which the image of Our Lady of Charity was moved from where it was found to the shrine it now occupies, such as Cayo La Virgen and Barajagua, have been declared National Monument of the Republic of Cuba.

Granma newspaper reports that the statement is contained in Resolution 01 of 2012, issued by the National Monuments Commission belonging to the Ministry of Culture, dated March 20.

The official appointment, resulting from the proposal of the Provincial Commissions of Monuments of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba, recognizes the image of the Our Lady of Charity, found in the Bay of Nipe in 1612, as part of the identity of the people Cuban, who paid tribute and identified in it a symbol of faith and inspiration for their highest aspirations for freedom and justice.

The resolution, signed by Dr. Eusebio Leal, president of the National Monuments Commission, also highlights how the minor basilica of the Our Lady of Charity, is a pilgrimage site for Cubans and foreigners, it retained the original image that has among its attributes the emblem of the Cuban nation embroidered.

Both the Basilica and the town of Real de Minas, where it sits, are placed in a relevant natural physical scenery, giving rise to a whole cultural landscape of high historical value, from its associative character with the Shrine and the remains of old buildings that were intended for the veneration of the Virgin.

It is important too, the report states, the exceptional testimony to the industrial heritage and of the first Cuban and African slave uprisings in the country that worked in the copper mines.

In addition there you find the historical evidence of the path of the image of Our Lady of Charity, found by three humble fishermen, who moved it from the Bay of Nipe to aboriginal Barajagua farm, following paths through those regions until the mining town, from which material evidence still exists.


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