The Cuban government has issued a directive making Good Friday an annual holiday.
The decision comes in response to a request made by Pope Benedict XVI to President Raul Castro during his Apostolic Visit to the country in March, 2012.
The first Good Friday in decades to be recognized by the Cuban government – which has for decades been officially atheist – was April 6 that same year.
In 2013 Cuba again recognized the holy day, and the government-controlled television network broadcast services led by Cardinal Jaime Ortega at Havana’s cathedral for the first time.
This year, the government has declared Good Friday an annual holiday and a day off work.
Meanwhile, the national state television broadcast a depiction of the Passion on Wednesday that took place in Havana Cathedral.
Since Fidel Castro’s Revolution in 1959, relations between Cuba’s atheist regime and the Catholic Church were strained, markedly by the expulsion of priests and the suppression of religious celebrations.
Relations have slowly improved, first with the visit of John Paul II in 1998, then later when Fidel Castro’s brother Raul assumed power.