In the area around the Templete, where the first mass was held in the Villa de San Cristobal in Havana on November 16, 1519, people, believers and non-believers, Habaneros and Cubans all gathered five hundred years later to thank God for the foundation of this city.
It was a simple, beautiful and very Cuban ceremony, which also brought together leaders of other non-Catholic religious denominations, who have joined the Celebrations of the Church through the half millennium of Havana.
The Mass, presided over by Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García, Archbishop of Havana and concelebred by Archbishop Wilfredo Pino and Manuel de Céspedes García-Menocal, Archbishop of Camaguey and Bishop of Matanzas, respectively, had, in addition to his religious connotation, a deep sense of Cubania, which was enriched by the accompanying musical sonority conducted by the guitar as a leading instrument.
The Eucharistic ceremony welcomed the wishes and supplications of the great Haban family gathered around God in a public place of great importance to local and Cuban history. It was undoubtedly a profession of shared faith and occasion that everyone took advantage of to ask God for children, mothers, fathers, the elderly, the sick, the workers, the peasants and also for the rulers.
The Word, which this morning collected the most universal of the commandments: “Let them love one another as I have loved them” was a call, also civic, to harmony, to the desire to build together a better city and to establish a dialogue that respects differences.
The cardinal, evoking those who participated in Havana’s founding Mass at the foot of the ceiba, invited all Catholics to publicly manifest the faith of their Church, as they have for years in other public spaces: schools, workplaces, social events, etc. As a colophon, he called on the Jewish families to pray every day, “for,” he said, “family that prays together, remains united, and that peace radiates to society.”
Spontaneously, after the end of mass, the people escorted to Havana Cathedral the images of our Lady of Charity copper and San Cristobal. Both presided over this morning’s Eucharistic celebration around the Templete, in the same Habanero heart.