Pope marks special anniversary by flying to Cuba's east

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Excitement Builds Ahead of Pope's Cuba Visit

HOLGUIN, Cuba (AP) -- Pope Francis marked the anniversary Monday of the day he decided as a teenager to become a priest by pressing a subtle message to Cubans at a delicate point in their own history: Overcome ideological preconceptions and be willing to change.

Francis traveled to Cuba's fourth-largest city, Holguin, and celebrated a Mass where Cuban rhythms mixed with church hymns under a scorching tropical sun. Later, he was heading to Santiago on Cuba's eastern end before flying Tuesday to Washington for the U.S. leg of his visit to the two Cold War enemies.

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Pope Francis in Havana, Cuba - 9/20
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Pope marks special anniversary by flying to Cuba's east
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / LUIS ACOSTA (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Cubans wait for catch a glimpse of Pope Francis as he arrives at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. AFP PHOTO / Rodrigo ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Cubans gather at Revolution Square in Havana for a mass with Pope Francis, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman is carried away on a stretcher by Red Cross workers after she fainted during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A religious man with a Mexican flag waits for the arrival of Pope Francis at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Faithful attend Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Cuban President Raul Castro (C) speaks with other authorities and their relatives as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives for Mass at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Faithful wait for the arrival of Pope Francis for a Mass in Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. The photo of the pope reads in Spanish: "Welcome!" (AP Photo/Enric Marti)
Pope Francis kisses a girl as he arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
People cheer as Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (L) gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) walks to the altar arrives to give mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (L) gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / LUIS ACOSTA (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
A statue of Jesus stands in Revolution Square, where a statue of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevera decorates a nearby government building in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, as Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (Tony Gentile/POOL via AP)
Pope Francis walks to the altar as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (Tony Gentile/POOL via AP)
A chorus sings as Pope Francis arrives for Mass at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis is helped to the altar as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, where a sculpture of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara decorates a nearby government building. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (Tony Gentile/POOL via AP)
A woman prays during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People attend the first mass of Pope Francis on his visit to Cuba, at Havana's Revolution Square on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (2-L) gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / LUIS ACOSTA (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at Revolution Square for Pope Francis's mass on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. Across from the square is a portrait of revolutionary leader Camilo Cienfuegos. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - SEPTEMBER 20: Pope Francis performs Mass on September 20, 2015 in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. Pope Francis is on the first full day of his three day visit to Cuba where he will meet President Raul Castro and hold Mass in Revolution Square before travelling to Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre then onwards to the United States. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
General view of Havana's Revolution Square as Pope Francis gives the first mass of his visit to Cuba, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Cuban President Raul Castro and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (R) wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis will give mass on Revolution Square, the biggest event of his trip to Cuba, with nearly a million people expected to attend. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait for the start of the mass to be officiated by Pope Francis at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Religious men and faithfuls attend Pope Francis' mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
A religious woman waits for the start of the mass to be officiated by Pope Francis at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
People cheer as Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana to give mass on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana to give mass on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives mass at Revolution Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. The pontiff's eight-day tour will also take him to the United States. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
A soldier stands guard as people gather at Revolution Square for Pope Francis's mass on September 20, 2015. Pope Francis greeted massive crowds of fans and Catholic faithful Sunday as he arrived in his popemobile to give mass on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, the highlight of his trip to Cuba. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman shades herself from the sun at the end of Mass, celebrated by Pope Francis in Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis urged Cubans to care for one another, and not judge each other, as he opened his visit to the country amid great hopes that the key role he played in bringing about detente with the U.S. will result in changes on the island. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
A priest gives Holy Communion to faithful during Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
A nun holds an Argentine flag during Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, who's from Argentina, in Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, where a sculpture of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara decorates a government building. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)
Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega, right, stands behind Pope Francis in the popemobile as they arrive for Mass at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. During Mass Sunday, Ortega thanked the pope for his work promoting detente between Havana and Washington and called for reconciliation between Cubans living on the island and elsewhere. Ortega was among many priests sent to military-run agricultural camps in the 1960s after Fidel Castro declared Cuba to be socialist and accused prominent Catholics of trying to topple him. (Ismael Francisco/Cubadebate Via AP)
A man looks out over Revolution Square as Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, where sculptures of revolutionary heroes Ernesto "Che" Guevara, left, and Camilo Cienfuegos decorate government buildings. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Photographers aim their cameras at Pope Francis as he celebrates Mass at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, where a sculpture of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara and a Cuban flag decorate government buildings. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
People attend Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana's Revolution Plaza. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
HAVANA, CUBA - SEPTEMBER 20: People leave after Pope Francis performs Mass on September 20, 2015 in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. Pope Francis is on the first full day of his three day visit to Cuba where he will meet President Raul Castro and hold Mass in Revolution Square before travelling to Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre then onwards to the United States. (Photo by Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - SEPTEMBER 20: People look on as Pope Francis performs Mass on September 20, 2015 in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. Pope Francis is on the first full day of his three day visit to Cuba where he will meet President Raul Castro and hold Mass in Revolution Square before travelling to Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre then onwards to the United States. (Photo by Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - SEPTEMBER 20: People look on as Pope Francis performs Mass on September 20, 2015 in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. Pope Francis is on the first full day of his three day visit to Cuba where he will meet President Raul Castro and hold Mass in Revolution Square before travelling to Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre then onwards to the United States. (Photo by Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HAVANA, CUBA - SEPTEMBER 20: People look on as Pope Francis performs Mass on September 20, 2015 in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. Pope Francis is on the first full day of his three day visit to Cuba where he will meet President Raul Castro and hold Mass in Revolution Square before travelling to Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and El Cobre then onwards to the United States. (Photo by Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Singing children and a small crowd waving Cuban and Vatican flags greeted Francis on his arrival, some crying out, "Francis! Holguin is with you!" Holguin's Plaza of the Revolution was packed with an estimated 150,000 people for the Mass, many dressed in white to protect them from the sun.

Security agents didn't appear to be letting members of the crowd get close to him. On Sunday, an apparent dissident hung on to the popemobile in Havana and seemed to be appealing to the pontiff before the man was dragged away.

The head of the opposition group Ladies in White said 22 of 24 members who wanted to attend Francis' Mass on Sunday were prevented from going by Cuban security agents. And two well-known Cuban dissidents said agents detained them after the Vatican invited them to the pope's vespers service at Havana's cathedral.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that some dissidents were invited to events to receive a greeting from the pope, but he said he didn't know why it didn't come to pass.

Asked if the Holy See would lodge an official protest, Lombardi demurred. He stressed that what was planned was just a "passing greeting," not an official meeting, and that it was set up at the last minute out of a "desire to show an attention for everyone, including dissidents."

In his homily in Holguin, a city of about 300,000, Francis pressed some of the subtle themes he has developed during this balancing act of a Cuban visit. He told the crowd of how Jesus picked a lowly and despised tax collector, Matthew, and instructed him without casting judgment to follow him. That experience of mercy changed Matthew forever.

Francis told the Cubans that they, too, should allow themselves "to slowly overcome our preconceptions and our reluctance to think that others, much less ourselves, can change."

"Do you believe it is possible that a tax collector can be a servant?" he asked. "Do you believe it is possible that a traitor can become a friend?"

It was a theme Francis sketched out Sunday night in an off-the-cuff encounter with young people. He encouraged them to dream big about what their life could be like, and not be "boxed in" by ideologies or preconceptions about others.

"If you are different than me, why don't we talk?" Francis asked the crowd. "Why do we always throw rocks at that which separates us?"

The message comes at a delicate time of change in Cuba as the communist country negotiates normalization of ties with its longtime foe, the United States, and undertakes modest free-market reforms that have opened some sectors of the economy to private enterprise while keeping large-scale enterprise in state hands.

Cuba has long defined itself by its rejection of the competition and self-interest that many see as central to life in the U.S. and other developed countries.

Detente with the United States has also raised hopes on both sides of the Florida Straits that the millions of families divided by the 1959 Cuban revolution will be reunited.

As a result, Francis has emphasized themes of reconciliation and looking beyond prejudice and ideologies.

"Francis is looking for peace among peoples and countries," said Yordani Monteagudo, a 24-year-old government worker who recorded Francis' encounter with young people Sunday night and was still talking about it a day later before the Mass in Holguin.

"In his message he called on young people to not be afraid to dream," Monteagudo said. "This makes you want to live, and build up this country."

Francis' homily also reflected a very personal story of his own faith and willingness to embrace change.

On Sept. 21, 1953 - 62 years ago Monday - a 17-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio went to confession at his parish church in Buenos Aires. During the confession, he later wrote, he "realized God was waiting for me," and knew he was going to become a priest.

Bergoglio wouldn't enter the seminary for several more years, but Sept. 21 - the feast of St. Matthew - has remained a crucial reference point for the pope.

"This Gospel of St. Matthew, this experience of Jesus who looks him in the eye and calls him to conversion to follow him, is something that is absolutely fundamental to the spirituality and life of the pope," said Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. "It is something that is at the root of Bergoglio's religious vocation."

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