Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Saturday and in celebration of his arrival Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to turn Good Friday into a national holiday, at least for this year.
Speaking about the national holiday a Vatican spokesman revealed that it was in fact the pope who asked Castro to have the country celebrate Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
Workers will now have April 6 off from work and that day will work the first time since 1959 in which Cuba has celebrated Good Friday as a nation. 1959 happens to be the same year as the Cuban revolution.
Cuba’s only other national holiday before this request was Christmas, that holiday came about once again at the request of the catholic church when Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1997 and asked Fidel Castro to consider the national holiday.
It is still not certain whether Good Friday will continue to be celebrated in the future, although Cuban’s leaders say the issue has been taken under consideration.
Aside from instituting a new national holiday Pope Benedict also requested that Raul Castro allow the catholic church to open new schools in the country and quite possible even broadcast catholic services and other catholic based shows throughout the island state.
The request to open schools and broadcast Catholic based television program was made by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi during a press conference in Havana. While such a connection to Cuba could be established leaders in the country have not yet publicly agreed to the Vatican’s request.