Let us be sure to include Cuba this day in our Good Friday prayers ... that the Holy Spirit would continue His work among the Cuban people and government. "Lord, we thank you for your work in Cuba among Your children. Continue to bless the faithful with courage and devotion. Stir up a wind of true liberation, creating new believers and freeing them from the shackles of atheism, communism, and/or paganism. We thank and praise You for the ongoing redemptive work wrought through the sacrifice of your precious Son, and it is in His name we ask these things. Amen!"Communist Cuba is marking Easter with a public holiday on Good Friday, for the first time in decades.This follows Pope Benedict's visit to the country last week, where he requested the move.
Religious holidays in Cuba were cancelled after the 1959 revolution, and fewer than 10% of Cubans are practising Catholics.
Nonetheless, the Church is the most influential organisation outside the Communist government.
The Cuban government said it granted the request as a mark of respect, and to commemorate the "transcendental nature" of the pope's visit.
The Pope's predecessor, John Paul II, made a similar request during the last papal visit to Cuba in 1998, successfully persuading then-leader Fidel Castro to recognise Christmas as a public holiday.
A service at Havana Cathedral will be broadcast live on Cuban television, indicating the improving relations between the Church and the government, says BBC Havana correspondent Sarah Rainsford.
Religious or not, Cubans have welcomed the day off, and hope that the change will be permanent, our correspondent says.
Some described it as a sign that Cuba was opening up to the world.
"I think almost all Cubans think it's a very good idea," one told the BBC.
The holiday has only been declared for this year, but the government says it will take a decision later on whether to make it permanent.