Pope Francis delivered the final homily of his trip in Cuba calling for the country to undertake a new revolution of tenderness rooted in Christian faith and marian devotion.
During Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Santiago he said: “We are asked to live the revolution of tenderness as Mary, our Mother of Charity, did.
"We are invited to ‘leave home’ and to open our eyes and hearts to others.
"Our revolution comes about through tenderness, through the joy which always becomes closeness and compassion, and leads us to get involved in, and to serve, the life of others.”
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The Pope’s homily emphasised the link between faith and national identity, citing the devotion of Our Lady of Charity as a figure guiding the country and protecting its roots.
The shrine is situated in Eastern Cuba which has special relevance for Cuban history and Catholic faith. It is located in the mountainous area which served as Fidel Castro’s rebel base during the guerrilla campaign to overthrow Fulgencio Batista's government.
Pope Francis prays before delivering his final homily in Cuba at Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Santiago (PA)
Francis said: “These lands have also been visited by her maternal presence. The Cuban homeland was born and grew, warmed by devotion to Our Lady of Charity.
"As the bishops of this country have written: ‘In a special and unique way she has moulded the Cuban soul, inspiring the highest ideals of love of God, the family and the nation in the heart of the Cuban people’.”
Grandmothers and mothers, he added, had kept the faith for future generations in Cuba through their “tenderness and love.”
“They kept open a tiny space, small as a mustard seed, through which the Holy Spirit continued to accompany the heartbeat of this people.”
In his own life, the Pope has spoken often of the importance of his own (paternal) grandmother in nurturing his faith and pursuing a religious vocation.
Following Mass the Pope will conclude his visit to Cuba with a meeting with families at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Santiago.
Following a blessing of the city from the square in front of the Cathedral of Santiago he will fly to Washington, arriving at the Andrews Air Force Base at 4pm local time (9pm BST).
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