Thousands of Cubans came together on Saturday for the beatification of Father Jose Olallo Valdes, called the Father of the Poor and Champion of Charity, and who is now the second Cuban to be declared Blessed.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, presided at the celebration, which was the first of its kind to take place in Cuba. Among those in attendance was Cuban President Raul Castro.
“His beatification is a milestone for the Church in Cuba and for the entire nation,” Cardinal Saraiva said, calling Blessed Olallo a “champion” and “apostle” of Christian charity.
Cardinal Saraiva pointed out that “ten years have passed since the historic visit of John Paul II to Cuba” and that the "Diocese of Camaguey and the entire Church in Cuba are experiencing today an unforgettable moment.”
“Faced with an imposing materialistic culture that casts aside the weak and forsaken, let us learn from Father Olallo the virtue of trusting in God, of knowing how to love everyone who is our neighbor.”
During the ceremony, Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Camaguey and president of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, gave a Bible as a gift to Raul Castro, who was accompanied by Vice President Esteban Lago and the head of religious affairs for the Communist Party, Caridad Diego.