Pope Grants Indulgence for Cuban Patron Pilgrimage

Celebrations Begin for Our Lady of Cobre 4th Centenary

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HAVANA, Cuba, AUG. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has granted a plenary indulgence to those taking part in a pilgrimage and national mission in honor of the 4th centenary of Our Lady of Cobre, Cuba’s patron.

The image of the virgin — a wooden statue about a foot high — was discovered in 1612 by three fishermen: a slave and two native Indians.

Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Our Lady of Charity of Cobre patron of the island in 1916. Pope John Paul II crowned the statue of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre during his visit to the island in 1998, proclaiming her the «Mother of Reconciliation» for Cuba.

In preparation for the 400th anniversary of the image, which will be marked in 2012, a pilgrimage is already underway as the image of the Virgin travels throughout the country, reported a communiqué from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba.

The Aug. 8 communiqué outlined the conditions needed to receive the plenary indulgence that is being granted to Catholics who «faithfully fulfilling the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), participate devoutly in some pious celebration or exercise before the image of the Pilgrim Virgin solemnly exposed, or if they are impeded, if they are spiritually united, in the presence of an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to those taking part in the pilgrimage.»

The prelates affirmed, «To prepare ourselves spiritually and to celebrate gratefully such a significant date the Catholic bishops of Cuba convoke all the faithful, the devotees of the Virgin of Charity, all persons of good will, in particular the neediest, as they are the ones who cannot go to Cobre to visit the Virgin in her shrine, to participate in the pilgrimage of the image of the Virgin of Charity which, starting from Cobre, will travel to each and all of the provinces, countryside, villages and cities of our beloved homeland convoking us in prayer and uniting us in love.»

The Church in Cuba is also currently participating in the continental mission, called for by Latin American and Caribbean bishops who gathered with Benedict XVI in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil.

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