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From March 26 to 27 saw the first stage of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI began in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, a city where he had a busy schedule of activities.

Below is a summary of some of the highlights of a stay here of the Supreme Pontiff, who visit the Caribbean country invited by the Government and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, travel framed in the Jubilee Year for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.

- Under the theme of "Pilgrim of Charity", Benedict XVI arrived on Monday March 26 from Mexico at 14:20 local time (19:20 GMT) at the Antonio Maceo International Airport, where he was received by President Raul Castro .

- In his welcoming remarks, the president gave him an overview of the current Cuban scene and the resistance of the island to the economic, political and media imposed by the greatest power ever known to history (United States).

- Raul Castro also mentioned the Pope the effort to maintain international solidarity practiced by Cuba for decades, collaboration expressed in sectors such as health and education.

- Meanwhile, the head of state of Vatican City appreciated the desired host and described the visit.

- Benedict XVI recalled the historic trip to Cuba by his predecessor John Paul II, who he said "has left an indelible mark on the soul of the Cuban" and left as a result "a new stage in relations between Church and State Cuban. "

- The visitor called to change the cultural and moral leadership in the world as a solution to the existing economic crisis. In this regard, he expressed his conviction that Cuba faces the morning and strives to renew and broaden their horizons, supported by "the immense heritage of spiritual and moral values ​​that have shaped his genuine identity."

- After the official welcoming ceremony, the Holy Father addressed to the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba scenic drive, five-mile journey in which he was accompanied by the cheers of thousands.

- The Edge of 17:00 local time (22:00 GMT) Pope came to the Plaza de la Revolución Antonio Maceo to celebrate mass. Before the Eucharist, pan-traveled by car with bulletproof glass-the plain below, where they waited for their greeting more than 200 thousand people.

- At 17.30 local time (22:30 GMT) the Pope began the Mass from the altar that plays a papal miter. The image of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, patroness of Cuba Catholic, attended the celebration.

- During the Mass, Benedict XVI reiterated his satisfaction for being on the island, and the reason for your trip, set in the Jubilee Year for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. After the Mass, the Blessed Virgin honored with the Golden Rose (relevant award Catholic) and Raul Castro greeted.

- In a summary of the first day of the Bishop of Rome in this city, located 900 kilometers east of Havana, the Vatican spokesman Federico Lomabardi, told reporters in the press that the Pope was pleasantly surprised by the reception .

- Just after 9:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Tuesday March 27, His Holiness came to the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, where he prayed with his personal staff and Cuban bishops. Benedict XVI sent a message to men and women focus in front of the Basilica, who said the presence of the Virgin Patron is a godsend for the Cubans.

- The Sanctuary, the Pope left for Antonio Maceo International Airport to travel to Havana. The chartered Alitalia plane took off for Latin American tour around 10:30 local time (15:30 GMT).

- Benedict XVI will fulfill a tight agenda in Havana, before embarking on the return to Rome on the evening of Wednesday 28 March.

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