VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The dates for Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico and Cuba have been confirmed and will include the feast of the Annunciation.
The March 23-28 trip will be centered in Leon, Mexico, and in Santiago and Havana, Cuba.
A note issued by the Mexican bishops’ conference explained that the Pope will arrive at the airport of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato on the afternoon of Friday, March 23. He will be greeted there by President Felípe Calderón, members of the episcopal conference and the city’s archbishop.
The next day, he will have an official meeting with the president and then have a meeting with children and the faithful in the city of Guanajuato.
On Sunday morning, March 25, Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the municipality of Silao. Following the ceremony he is due to meet with representatives from the 91 dioceses of Mexico. That evening the Holy Father will preside at vespers in the cathedral of Leon with Mexican bishops and representatives of other Latin American episcopates, to whom he will address a message.
The next day, he flies to Cuba, where he will arrive in Santiago in the early afternoon. He will be welcomed by President Raúl Castro, members of the episcopal conference and by the archbishop of Santiago. The Holy Father will then travel by open-top car to the Plaza de la Revolucion where he will celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
Tuesday morning, March 27, the Holy Father will make a private visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity where he will pray before the image of the patron of Cuba. He will then go to the airport of Santiago to fly to the capital city Havana, where he is due to arrive at midday. He will be welcomed there by Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, and by other religious and civil authorities. That afternoon the Pope will hold an official meeting with President Castro, then meet with Cuban bishops in the apostolic nunciature.
March 28 in the morning, the Pope will preside at a public Mass. In the early afternoon he will be taken by open-top car to the airport of Havana were, following the departure ceremony, he will board his return flight for Rome.