Pope Francis arrives in Cuba on Saturday, where he will hold Mass and visit with President Raul Castro ahead of a five-day tour of four U.S. cities, a meeting with President Obama and a speech to a joint meeting of Congress.
National Catholic Register writes: "Visiting both Cuba and the United States on the same trip not only acknowledges his role in encouraging detente between them, but will give Pope Francis an opportunity to demonstrate that while different political and cultural challenges face Catholics in both countries, the Gospel and its values are the same."
Here's a look at some of the highlights of on the pontiff's itinerary:
Saturday, Sept. 19:
4:05 p.m.: Arrives Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.
Sunday, Sept. 20:
9 a.m.: Mass in Havana's Revolution Square.
4 p.m.: Visit with President Raul Castro.
Monday, Sept. 21:
10:30 a.m.: Mass in the southern city of Holguin.
7 p.m.: Meeting with bishops at seminary of St. Basil the Great in El Cobre.
Tuesday, Sept. 22:
8 a.m.: Mass in Minot Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.
11 a.m.: Speech in Santiago de Cuba.
4 p.m.: Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., for official welcome.
Wednesday, Sept. 23:
9 a.m.: Meeting with President Obama at White House.
11:30 a.m.: Prayer with bishops of the United States at St. Matthew's Cathedral.
4:15 p.m.: Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Thursday, Sept. 24:
9:20 a.m.: Address before joint meeting of Congress.
11:15 a.m.: Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington.
6:46 p.m.: Vespers at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Friday, Sept. 25:
8:30 a.m.: Visit to United Nations followed by speech to U.N. General Assembly.
11:30 a.m.: Service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
6 p.m.: Mass at Madison Square Garden.
Saturday, Sept. 26:
9:30 a .m.: Arrival at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia.
10:30 a.m.: Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
7:30 p.m.: Visit to Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Sunday, Sept. 27:
9.15 a.m.: Meeting with bishops at St. Martin's Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
11 a.m.: Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.
4 p.m.: Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
7 p.m.: Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation.
8 p.m.: Departure for Rome.