Video: Cuba’s patroness and the basilica that houses her

Learn about Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patroness, and the basilica that houses her. Pope Benedict is honoring her tonight with an outdoor Mass in Santiago de Cuba, and tomorrow morning he will visit the shrine itself, about 30 miles away.

Previewing the papal trip to Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Cuba this afternoon. Take a minute to check out some of our preview material:

(CNS/Emily Thompson)

A schoolgirl poses for a photo at a park in Santiago, Cuba. (CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

The stories above were from a reporting trip to Cuba last month by CNS visual media manager Nancy Wiechec and CNS staff reporter Patricia Zapor, who also spoke about their trip to Cuba on the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program this past weekend. Not to be missed is this photo gallery of some of the colorful images they brought back. (They also wrote a blog on the things the pope will and won’t see while in Cuba.)

In addition, CNS Rome senior correspondent Cindy Wooden, who has been reporting from  Havana this weekend while awaiting the pope’s arrival, wrote this Vatican Letter last week, The cry of the poor: Pope likely to repeat criticism of Cuba embargo, giving a Vatican perspective on the Cuba visit.

Also of note is this blog item by the chairman of Catholic Relief Services, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, on what this trip means to him.

CNS Rome bureau chief Francis X. Rocca, traveling on the papal plane to both Mexico and Cuba, also previewed the Cuba visit in this video report from Rome, focusing particularly on communism’s effect on the church since the rise of Fidel Castro more than 50 years ago.