Pope Benedict XVI Says Mass in Cuba (Photos)

In the second-ever papal visit to the island nation, Pope Benedict XVI says mass in Santiago de Cuba, hometown of the Castro brothers.

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Castro and the pope—what a pair. Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba this week marks the first time the communist nation has been visited by the leader of the Catholic Church in 14 years. The pontiff’s first stop was in the city of Santiago de Cuba, hometown of leaders Raul and Fidel Castro and repository of an icon bearing the image of the Virgin of Charity, the island’s patron saint. Speaking in the city, the pope called for a “renewed and open” Cuban society. No word yet on the rumors that Fidel will convert to Catholicism during the visit.

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An honor guard salutes Pope Benedict XVI upon his arrival in Santiago de Cuba. March 26, 2012.

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Fourteen years after Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI arrives for a three-day visit. It’s the pontiff’s first trip to the communist country.

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 Cuban President Raul Castro and the pope shake hands with a Cuban bishop.

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The pope celebrated a mass in Santiago de Cuba’s main square for Cuban faithful. The city southeast of Havana was the Holy Father’s first stop on a trip planned to foster better relations with the communist regime.

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Cuban dissidents said that more than 150 people were arrested in an attempt to squelch demonstrations prior to the pope’s public mass.

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Pope Benedict celebrated mass on the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, a depiction of the island nation’s patron saint.

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People wave the flags of Cuba and the Holy See as Pope Benedict XVI passes through Santiago de Cuba.

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People wait as the pontiff is driven through Santiago de Cuba. Benedict stopped in Cuba after a three-day trip through Mexico.

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The pope at his mass in Santiago de Cuba.

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About 10 percent of Cubans regularly attend mass.

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The 84-year-old bishop of Rome celebrated the mass in a light rain and said he hoped Cuba would see a time of expanded freedoms.

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Santiago de Cuba, where the pope celebrated his mass Monday, is the hometown of the Castro family.