Benedict making history in historic Mexican city

March 24, 2012 3:57:14 PM PDT
Pope Benedict XVI was on the second day of a five-day trip to Latin America that will also take him to Cuba.

Saturday evening, the Pontiff planned to meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the state government house in Guanajuato.

The meeting has been criticized. Some in Mexico are saying the meeting is politically motivated because a presidential election is coming up. They say the president wants to give his party a political boost. The Pope says the church is a moral entity and that he is here on a pilgrim of hope, peace, and faith.

With its breathtaking beauty and quaint charm, the city of Guanajuato served as a backdrop to the Pope's visit Saturday.

"Guanajuato welcomes all the people of the world, especially for the people of Chicago," said restaurant owner Juan Jose Valtierra.

La casa del Conde Rule - or state capital building - is where the Pope and Calderon were set to meet.

Afterwards, the Pope will step onto a balcony and bless more than 800 children from local churches. Another 300 will be watch at Teatro Juarez, including Carlos Ortiz's son and daughter.

"For months we've been talking about the Pope, the Pope, the Pope, and finally comes the day,"Carlos Ortiz said.

Buildings and balconies decorate this colonial city. People line the streets. Some tried to convince relatives in Chicago to join them.

Martinez, Bakersfield, CA Resident

"They tried to come, but they have work, they have jobs, they have lots of things to do," said Erasmo Martinez of Bakersfield, Calif. "So go ahead and come over here and we'll support you."

Guanajuato is the heart of where Mexico fought for its independence. And this beautiful, scenic town is a tourist destination and students come here from all over the country to learn about Mexico's history. Saturday, this town was ready to welcome the pontiff.

Historical sites are turning into outdoor theaters, like Al-ondiga de Granaditas, where Priest Miguel Hidalgo led the first battle for Mexican Independence.

History is everywhere here. The statue of El Pipila, a miner who led an insurgent victory, overlooks this town .

This weekend, the Pope is the man who will make history.

"He represents Christ on the earth for Catholics," said Daniel Flores of El Paso, Texas. "He is very important for us. W e've been following his messages."