The Good Friday Way of the Cross Returns to Havana After Two Years of the Pandemic

The Good Friday procession of the Cross passes through a street in Old Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Raquel Martori, Havana | 16 The Good Friday Stations of the Cross once again returned to the streets of Havana after two years of isolation for Cuban Catholics due to the crisis generated by the covid-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of people of all ages — most of them adults — joined the procession that started from the parish of Cristo del Buen Viaje, a church in the historic center of the Cuban capital, to walk the path of the 14 stations that marked the passage the religious act, which represents the death of Jesus.

At the exit of the procession, the vicar general and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Havana, Ramón Suárez Polcari, urged the faithful to “remain firm in faith and good work.”

A group of believers carried the images of Jesus of Nazareth — carrying his cross and crowned with thorns — and the Virgin Mary of Sorrows through the narrow alleys of the oldest and most popular area of ​​Havana.

The Virgin Mary of Sorrows is carried through the narrow alleys of the oldest and most popular area of ​​Havana. (EFE)

The procession – presided over by the Cardinal and Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad García, brought together priests, nuns, deacons and faithful, accompanied by a car with a speaker, from which songs were broadcast.

But also prayers for Cuba, with voices in favor of solidarity, forgiveness, faith, respect for values, reconciliation, overcoming divisions, as well as for those who must ensure the common good and particularly those most in need.

Residents and onlookers watched the Stations of the Cross standing at the doors of their homes, on the sidewalks or from the tops of balconies and rooftops over more than a kilometer, with the penultimate stop at the imposing Havana Cathedral and ending at the rhythm of a funeral march in the church of the Holy Angel.

The procession also attracted the eyes of numerous tourists who walked through the area most frequented by tourists in Havana.

Ana María Martínez, arriving early at the Buen Viaje temple of which she is practically a neighbor, said that she was moved “by a great faith, because I will always have it.” According to what she told Efe, she has been left without a family: her only sister died from covid and her nephews live in the United States.

“I have great hope that life will return to the way it was before, although we continue to suffer from this disease. There are many people who have not lost faith and today I have come to ask God to help me,” she said.

A few meters away, Adrián Rodríguez, a 27-year-old who supported the organization of the Stations of the Cross, considered it “very important” that it could be carried out because it gives hope to “move forward,” after the country’s economic situation had deteriorated, which in his opinion “has had repercussions at the community level with the increase in faith,” although it has also triggered emigration.

In 2012, the then Pope Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to Cuba, during which he asked the then president of the island, Raúl Castro, to restore the commemoration of Good Friday as a holiday, which had been suspended for almost half a century.

That year and the next, the Cuban government declared Good Friday an “exceptional” holiday in consideration of the Pope’s request and since 2014 has considered that Christian date as official in the island’s calendar.

In Cuba, with more than 11.2 million inhabitants, it is estimated that 60% of the population is Catholic, according to the number of people baptized on the island.

The relations between the Catholic Churches and the Government experienced tensions at the beginning of the revolution in 1959, and for years later the ups and downs continued until the beginning of the 1990s, when there was a  transition to a relaxation, especially since the historic visit of Pope John Paul II in 1998, which was followed by that of Benedict XVI and the current Pontiff Francis.


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