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Pope Benedict XVI Visits Mexico, Cuba

March 24, 2012 by staff 

Pope Benedict XVI Visits Mexico, Cuba, It had become tradition in Mexico. Before daybreak, youths would creep as close as security permitted and serenade their beloved Pope John Paul II with a song of greeting and celebration.

Now a new, less familiar pope had come, seeking to strengthen his own ties with the largest Spanish-speaking Catholic nation.

So well before dawn Saturday, two dozen youths from a Guadalajara church group gathered near the school where the Pope Benedict XVI was staying. “We sang with all our heart and all our force,” said Maria Fernanda de Luna, a member of the group. “It gave us goosebumps to sing ‘Las Mananitas’ for him.”

Songs, joyful throngs, church bells and confetti welcomed Benedict as he began his first trip to Mexico, a celebration that seemed to erupt spontaneously out of what had been a thin, sun-dazed crowd.

As Pope Benedict XVI’s plane appeared in the shimmering heat of Friday afternoon, people poured from their homes. They packed sidewalks five and six deep, screaming ecstatically as the pope passed, waving slowly. Some burst into tears.

Many had said moments earlier that they could never love a pope as strongly as Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II. But the presence of a pope on Mexican soil touched a chord of overwhelming respect and adoration for the papacy itself, the personification for many of the Catholic Church, and God. Thousands found themselves taken aback by their own emotions.

As a girl, Celia del Rosario Escobar, 42, saw John Paul II on one of his five trips to Mexico, which brought him near-universal adoration.

“I was 12 and it’s an experience that still makes a deep impression on me,” she said. “I thought this would be different, but, no, the experience is the same.”

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