Seventeen years after the historic visit of Saint John Paul II to Cuba, the Polish pope is returning to the country, thanks to a relic brought by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary after having journeyed on pilgrimage in various cities in the United States and Guatemala. As reported on the website of the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops, the relic consists of a small vial that contains a few drops of blood of the saint, gathered during his last stay in the hospital, a short while before his death on April 2, 2005 in Rome. The relic was first venerated April 7-9 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, located in the city of Santiago de Cuba. It was then brought to Camaguey from April 10-12. Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator for the cause of canonization for the Polish pope, entrusted the reliquary to the care of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary during its pilgrimage through several countries. Three sisters from the congregation travelled on this pilgrimage: Nicaraguan Sisters Ema Maria Rueda and Marta Maria Gomez, and Sister Maria Teresa Acosta, a Cuban native. The lay persons that accompanied them from the congregation’s lay association were Alba Hernandez, Gisela Alfonso and her father Manuel Alfonso. The Diocesan Religious Institute to which the sisters belong was founded in 1990 in the Archdiocese of Miami by Mother Adela Galindo. Their spiritual charism is “to be a living image and presence of the Heart of Mary in the heart of the Church and generously placing our feminine genius and our Marian charism at the service of the Petrine principle.” The Cuban bishops also announced that the Prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, will visit the island from April 22-28. The cardinal is coming to Cuba at the invitation of the local bishops. The cardinal was the Apostolic Nuncio to the country from 1993-1999. Cardinal Stella’s schedule includes a meeting with the bishops, visits to various dioceses and eventually “he will have official meetings with our country’s civil authorities.”
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