CHICAGO (WLS) --Pope Francis is preparing for his mission to Mexico. The pope leaves Rome on Friday for a 7-day journey - his first visit to Mexico as the first Latin American pope.
He'll make a brief stopover in Cuba for a historic meeting with the Russian Orthodox patriarch. That's never happened before.
Then, Pope Francis will land in Mexico City Friday night. And on Saturday, he'll celebrate Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.That basilica and shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe is revered by Catholics of Mexican heritage, marking the spot where many believe the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego nearly five centuries ago.
From Mexico City, the pope will visit a number of other areas: traveling to the Chiapas region and meeting with indigenous peoples there, then to the city of Morelia in the state of Michoacan. Many Chicagoans have family roots in that area.
Finally, he will travel to the Mexico-U.S. border to Ciudad Juarez, a city with a history of violence and drug wars that was once called the murder capital of the world.
He'll also visit inmates at a prison in Juarez, where a group of inmates are working in the prison courtyard to prepare for the pope's visit. About 700 inmates have been chosen to meet with the pope.
It's during this part of his trip that his actions and statements will be closely watched politically because the pope will be within a few hundred feet of the U.S. border, stressing the Catholic Church's views on immigration.
ABC7's Alan Krashesky and Stacey Baca will be covering the pope's mission to Mexico. Watch Eyewitness News for their live reports starting Friday.