Colorful plastic rosaries brought by Cuban-American pilgrims have become one of the most precious and unexpected presents for Catholic Cubans.

      Yesterday, several Cuban-Americans from Miami and New York became the center of attention among children and adults alike near the Plaza de la Revolucion, where a large altar has been set up for the Pope's last Mass in Cuba, which is scheduled for Sunday. The plaza has become a gathering place for Catholics, who express their faith by singing and praying publicly.

      Several Cuban-Americans appeared yesterday morning, before the Pope's arrival, carrying bags with thousands of plastic rosaries, which they began distributing among the people. The news of the Cuban-Americans distributing rosaries was passed immediately, and suddenly great groups of local residents surrounded the donors.

      "This has nothing to do with politics," said one the Cuban-Americans involved in distributing the rosaries; "we are just enjoying the opportunity to share a means to practice our faith with our brothers and sisters here."

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

January 23-25, 1998 volume 9, no. 17          DAILY CATHOLIC