While in Havana, in addition to numerous meetings with local government officials, the Patriarch also visited a children’s hospital and a school for children with special needs, giving small crosses to the children as a blessing related to his visit. As a blessing to the people of Cuba, who built the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the Patriarch also gave President Fidel Castro a simple cross. Likewise, Fidel Castro presented Patriarch Bartholomew with a jeweled cross in recognition of his historic visit to the island nation.
The visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Cuba was his first visit ever to Latin America. His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians. He is the 270th successor to the Apostle St. Andrew.