Cuban landmark for Catholic friar
The first beatification ceremony in
It was the final step before sainthood for 19th Century friar, Jose Olallo, known as the "poor people's priest".
The ceremony in
The unannounced arrival of Mr Castro was greeted with applause, a sign of the growing rapprochement between the communist state and the Church.
The top Vatican official who anoints saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva from
Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega, papal nuncio Luigi Bonazzi, Camaguey Archbishop Juan Garcia, and about 20 Cuban and foreign bishops were also present.
Doves were released and bells rung as Friar Olallo's remains, in a gold-coloured urn, were taken in a procession through the city.
Friar Olallo, a member of the Hospitallier Order of Saint John of God, helped the sick and wounded during
He defied Spanish orders barring members of religious orders from
While the ceremony was the first to be held in
Cuban-born Fray Jose Lopez Piteira was beatified in 2007, but the ceremony took place in
In the early years of the revolution,
But relations have improved significantly since former leader Fidel Castro welcomed Pope John Paul II to
When his brother Raul took over the presidency earlier this year, his first foreign visitor was the
And this is second time in a week Mr Castro has been to a church.
On Thursday he accompanied the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to the recently opened Russian Orthodox Cathedral in
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/11/30 00:34:33 GMT