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Pope gives Castro cross to refugees’ parish church

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis is donating a crucifix that was given to him by the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, during the recent papal visit to the Caribbean nation to the parish church of Lampedusa, an island haven for refugees in the Mediterranean.

Vatican Radio reported on November 12 that the crucifix measures over three metres high and is crafted from wooden oars tied with ropes to symbolise the reality of migrants who have crossed the sea in flimsy boats.

Lampedusa is off the coast of Sicily and receives the majority of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. The tiny island was also the first place in Italy that Pope Francis chose to visit after his election.

Pope Francis’ decision was announced by Francesco Cardinal Montenegro, the archbishop of Agrigento, whose archdiocese includes Lampedusa. He made the announcement in the presence of the pope at the National Ecclesial Congress in Florence on November 10.

The parish priest of Lampedusa, Father Mimmo Zambito, described the images on the crucifix as symbolising the mercy and humanity of Jesus Christ, who triumphs over every conflict, knocking down walls and crossing borders.

The crucifix will be displayed in the Church of the Holy Cross in Agrigento for the local inauguration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 11, before being taken on a pilgrimage across the archdiocese of Agrigento and settling at its final residence in the parish church of Lampedusa.


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