SANTIAGO DE CUBA – The town of El Cobre and the Basilica that welcome the Virgin of Charity, the Patron Saint of Cuba are getting ready to receive the Pope Francis on September 21 and 22 during his visit to the country.

The seminarian Elvys Solís Vázquez on behalf of the authorities of Santuario informed The Havana Reporter that they are advancing the works in order for the religious enclosure to be a dignified area for the Eucharist by the Supreme Pontiff on the morning of September 22 in front of thousands of people from all across the island.

The town of El Cobre and the Basilica that welcome the Virgin of Charity, the Patron Saint of Cuba are getting ready to receive the Pope Francis on September 21 and 22 during his visit to the country.Solís highlighted that the highest representative of the Catholic Church will arrive in Santiago de Cuba after the program put together in the Eastern city of Holguin in the afternoon of September 21 where he will share his prayer with the Cuban bishops and as all the travellers do he will pray to the image of the deity.

Like the other believers who come to this holy place, the Pope Francis will give flowers and candles to the Virgin as offerings, accompanied in the same way by Cuban bishops.

People from all over Cuba will go to the Basilica and Santuario of El Cobre from Pinar del Rio to Guantanamo, natives in the majority of small communities where in the absence of churches the believers come together in homes offered by their own neighbors.

Inside the Church there will be 1,700 Cubans and in the Plaza Mariana situated in the outskirts of the building thousands will congregate to follow the ritual and afterwards they will be close to Father Francis when he makes his brief tour around those areas.

Solís said that during the morning of September 22 a meeting between the Pope and Cuban families will take place in the Cathedral within the city, at the end of which he will bless the city which just celebrated its 500th anniversary, from the atrium.

He added that from the central park Céspedes opposite the church and a few blocks from La Plaza de Marte the people of Santiago de Cuba and other Cubans, principally easterners, will follow the details of the formal ceremonies on TV screens.

It is a pastoral visit through which the Pope will confirm the Cubans in their faith as missionary of the clemency.

In terms of space, the move through these places will be performed in an open vehicle which will facilitate the greetings of the locals and thousands of other visitors who will express their admiration, respect and affection for the Pope, said Solis.

In accordance with the given program, once these activities are finished in the city, the Pope will depart to the US from the Antonio Maceo International Airport to continue his tour.

Located 20 kilometers from the city, the town of El Cobre and especially el Santuario de la Virgen de la Caridad welcome around 1000 people everyday – even more over the weekend – that come from various areas of the island and from other countries too that are all attracted by the mysticism of the blessed place.

Through the attraction of its religious transcendence, the natural beauty of the landscape and the mountains of the Sierra Maestra in the background are brought together as well as with the secular stamp of the mining, a productive activity decades ago and the slave rebellion with the Monumento al Cimarrón (The Monument of the Runaway Slave) a sculpture by Alberto Lescay.

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