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Castro gives Francis giant cross made of oars from migrant boats

21 settembre 2015 | 12.44
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Photo: AFP

A huge crucifix made of wooden oars carved from migrant boats was among the official gifts presented to Pope Francis by Cuba's president Raul Castro during their private meeting in Havana on Sunday, the country's communist daily Granma reports.

The two-metre high cross was presented by the Cuban artist Alexis Leyva Machado, known as Kcho, and was on display at the Palace of the Revolution, Cuba's seat of government.

Francis gave the Cuban leader a painting of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, Cuba's patron saint, according to Granma and other media reports.

Francis thanked Castro for his welcome at Havana's airport on Saturday and for the Cuban president's pardons for 3,522 prisoners convicted of relatively minor crimes.

The pontiff brought the retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro a collection of sermons by Castro's former Jesuit teacher, the Amando Llorente, and two CD recordings of the Spanish priest speaking.

Llorente taught at a Jesuit high school where Fidel was a student, but he was forced to leave Cuba soon after Castro took power in 1959 and expelled foreign clerics. He died in Miami in 2010.

During his four-day visit, his first to the communist island, Francis has emphasised reconciliation between with Cubans living overseas.

Francis and Fidel Castro had a half-hour meeting in Havana on Sunday at Castro's home, which the Vatican described as informal and familial.

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