Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Mar 27, 2012 / 10:17 am
Pope Benedict XVI committed Cuba's future to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, as he prayed for the suffering and oppressed during his visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Cobre on March 27.
"Let all those you meet know, whether near or far, that I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways of renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans," he announced, after spending time in prayer before the statue of the "Virgin of Charity."
Pope Benedict's visit to Cuba comes during a Jubilee Year commemorating the 400th anniversary of the finding of the statue, discovered floating off the island's coast. Found by two native Cubans and a young slave boy, the image of Our Lady of Cobre remains a beloved symbol of the Cuban Catholic Church.
After a private Mass at Santiago de Cuba's St. Basil the Great Seminary, the Pope traveled to El Cobre on Tuesday morning, where he was welcomed by Archbishop Dionisio G. Ibáñez. Pope Benedict knelt before the statue, lit a candle and recited a traditional prayer.