Why a Papal Mass Matters in Havana

Cubans share their hopes with GOOD during a historic visit from Pope Francis.

Luisa, 75, on her way to the mass. Image by Julie Schwietert Collazo

By 8 a.m. this morning, an hour before Pope Francis was scheduled to start Mass in Havana’s iconic Revolution Plaza (Plaza de la Revolución), crowds of faithful—and not so faithful—had already filled the large rectangular lot that sits in the shadow of some of the Cuban capital's most photographed structures. To their backs was the National Library, whose facade had been draped with a giant banner depicting Jesus and the phrase “Vengan a Mi,” or “Come to Me.” To their right, were images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, heroes of the Cuban Revolution, who looked upon the crowd from their permanent locations on the side of two government buildings. “Che and Pope Francis, Argentina’s heroes,” whispered a woman visiting from Argentina, the Pope’s home country, as a chorus began to sing hymns.

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