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Pope Francis donates Castro crucifix to Lampedusa

Cuban President Raul Castro and Pope Francis next to the crucifix made of oars (Photo: AP)

Pope Francis is donating to the parish church of Lampedusa a crucifix that President Raul Castro gave him during his visit to Cuba.

Measuring over three metres high, the crucifix is crafted from wooden oars tied with ropes to symbolise the reality of migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean by boat.

Lampedusa is an island off the coast of Sicily which receives the majority of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea by boat from Libya to Italy.

The tiny island was also the first place in Italy that Pope Francis chose to visit after his election.

The crucifix will be displayed in the Church of the Holy Cross in Agrigento for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 11 and then will be taken on a pilgrimage across the Archdiocese of Agrigento before taking up its final residence in the parish church of Lampedusa.

Cardinal Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento, whose archdiocese includes Lampedusa, announced the Pope’s decision.

He made the announcement at Italy’s National Ecclesial Congress in Florence that was attended by the Pope on Tuesday.

The parish priest of Lampedusa Don Mimmo Zambito said the image of this crucifix symbolises the humanity and mercy of Jesus Christ who triumphs over every conflict, knocking down walls and crossing borders.

Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza vessels gather at the spot where 366 migrants perished in the 2013 Lampedusa migrant boat disaster (CNS photo)
Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza vessels gather at the spot where 366 migrants perished in the 2013 Lampedusa migrant boat disaster (CNS photo)