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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will visit Cuba before his arrival in the United States in September, the Vatican confirmed this morning.
In a brief statement issued by the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi said: “I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation by the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States on the trip announced some time ago.”
The date of the Pope’s visit to Cuba has yet to be confirmed. However, earlier this week the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra in Washington, DC, on September 23.
The Pope will then address a joint session of the United States Congress on September 25.
And he will celebrate a papal Mass at the World Meeting of Families on September 27, being held in Philadelphia from the September 22-27.
Pope John Paul II made an historic visit to Cuba from January 21-25, 1998. It marked the first time a Roman pontiff had visited the island nation, and the first time he was welcomed since Fidel Castro rose to power in the Communist Revolution of 1959.
Pope Benedict XVI made a three-day visit to the island in March 2012.
However, Pope Francis’ upcoming trip is particularly significant in light of the key role the Vatican played in restoring diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba earlier this year.
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.