Santiago (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis is on his third stop in the trip to Cuba. Yesterday afternoon, after Mass in Holguin and the blessing of the cross overlooking the city, the papal plane moved to Santiago, in the extreme south-east of the island. After a closed-door meeting with the bishops, in the evening he went to the shrine of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, about 30 km from the city. The "Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre" is the patron saint of Cuba, and is represented by a small statue of the Mother and Child, found in 1612 in the Bay of Nipe by three little slaves, two Indians and an African.
Today, in the Virgin’s sanctuary, Francis will celebrate his last mass in Cuba. He will then move to the cathedral of Santiago for a meeting with families.
In front of the small statue of the Virgin, the pope remained a few minutes in silence, then he recited the prayer of which a few excerpts follow below. In the prayer he entrusted to Mary "all Cubans inside and outside the home, as a sign of hope and center of fraternal communion". In fact, as pointed out by many of the faithful, one of the Cuban people’s greatest wounds, perhaps more acute than the embargo, is the division between Cubans who fled abroad, especially to Florida, accused by the country's leaders of wanting to "destroy the revolution" and the same leaders, held responsible for the poverty and lack of freedom prevailing among the Cuban population, and from which refugees have fled. Pope Francis offered to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre a bouquet of flowers and a silver vase with silver and ceramic flowers.
"Virgin of Charity of Cobre! Patroness of Cuba! ... Your name and image are inscribed in the hearts and minds of all Cubans, inside and outside the home, as a sign of hope and center of fraternal communion.
Holy Mary, Mother of God and our Mother! Pray for us to your Son Jesus Christ, intercede for us with your maternal heart, filled the love of the Spirit. Increase our faith, enliven our hope, augment and strengthen love in us. Protect our families, protect young people and children, comfort those who suffer ...
Mother of reconciliation! Gather together your people scattered throughout the world. Make the Cuban nation a home of brothers and sisters so that this people will open wide its mind, its heart and its life to Christ, the only Savior and Redeemer ...
Stay with us, Lord ... It is in our families, enlighten and sustain them in difficulty. Stay with our children and our youth. In them is the hope and the treasure of our country. Stay with those who suffer, comfort them and protect them.
Stay with us, Lord, when we feel doubt, weariness or encounter difficulty; enlighten our minds with your Word; nourish us with the Bread of Life that we have in every Eucharist; help us to experience the joy of believing in you".