January 21, 1998, John Paul II arrived on Cuban soil and was greeted by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz at José Martí International Airport. Photo: Ahmed Velázquez

Official diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Cuba were established in 1935, and have been maintained since then without interruption. The 80 year history of these ties has been marked by important events, among them Pope John Paul’s five-day stay on the island in 1998, and the 2012 trip of Benedict XVI.

This year, Pope Francis will visit September 19-22, beginning his apostolic tour in Havana and concluding in Santiago de Cuba.

Pope John Paul’s first mass on the island, celebrated in Villa Clara was attended by 150 000 persons. Photo: Miguel Viñas
Pope John Paul addressed some 200 000 believers and non-believers in Camagüey. Foto: Miguel Viñas
The Pope arrived in Havana’s José Martí Plaza de la Revolución January 25, 1998 to officiate his fourth and final mass here, after visting Santa Clara, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. His first words were, “Cuba, friend, the Pope is with you!” Photo: Ahmed Velázquez
Benedicto XVI was received at the Council of State’s Palacio de la Revolución by President Raúl Castro Ruz, who on March 25, 2012, also personally welcomed him at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Photo: Estudio Revolución
The Pope visited the Virgin of Charity Sanctuary in Cobre, the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Photo: Juvenal Balán
During the 30 minute meeting between Pope Benedict and Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, the two leaders discussed a variety of cultural, scientific and religious topics. Photo: Estudios Revolución Photo: Estudio Revolución
The Pope’s final mass in Havana’s José Martí Plaza de la Revolución Photo: Juvenal Balán