From: Nelson, Colleen McCain [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2015 02:33 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N.
Subject: Travel Pool Report #7 -- shrine visit
After a 30-minute drive, the president's motorcade arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami.
Inside, 13 people sat in the pews of the church. President Obama arrived inside and walked to the front of the church with Father Juan Rumin Dominguez. They stood together as Father Rumin spoke about the church. Cristina Brito interpreted, relaying his comments in English.
They stood before a massive, two-story tall mural. All three repeatedly pointed at the mural, painted in deep brown and creme colors, as they spoke. Pool could not hear a word they were saying. The church's website offers extensive information about the 747-square-foot mural, which depicts 63 different figures.
The pool was led out of the church after just three minutes. The people in the pews sat silently as the president and Father Rumin spoke.
After the brief, unannounced stop, the president's motorcade is rolling to the airport.
More background on the shrine is below.
From Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council Spokesperson:
“The President is visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami to pay his respects to the Cuban-American diaspora that worship there. He will honor the sacrifices that Cuban-Americans have made in their pursuit of liberty and opportunity, as well as their extraordinary contributions to our country.
As the President said in announcing our policy changes on Cuba last December, "Countless thousands of Cubans have come to Miami -- on planes and makeshift rafts; some with little but the shirt on their back and hope in their hearts. Today, Miami is often referred to as the capital of Latin America. But it is also a profoundly American city – a place that reminds us that ideals matter more than the color of our skin, or the circumstances of our birth; a demonstration of what the Cuban people can achieve, and the openness of the United States to our family to the South.”
Background on the Shrine:
More than 400 years ago, a statue of the Virgin Mary, also known as Our Lady of Charity, was discovered floating on the sea on the northeast coast of Cuba by three fishermen. The original statue resides at the shrine of El Cobre outside the city of Santiago in southwest Cuba. Pope Benedict XV declared the Lady of Charity the patroness of Cuba in 1915 at the request of the veterans of the Cuban War of Independence. 2012 marked the 400th anniversary and was celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba.
On September 8, 1961, the Archdiocese of Miami celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Charity welcoming a replica of Our Lady of Charity that arrived from Cuba. Some 30,000 Cuban exiles attended that mass. The replica was housed at the parish of St. John Bosco in Little Havana until the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity was constructed in the late 1960s. Then-Archbishop Carroll opened the doors to more than 14,000 Cuban children whose parents, entrusting them to the Church, sent them to the United States as part of Operation "Peter Pan."
The feast of Our Lady of Charity is celebrated annually on September 8.
Father Rumin Dominguez is the pastor of the National Shrine and himself of Cuban origin. He will provide the President with a tour of the church.
Colleen McCain Nelson
The Wall Street Journal