The Cuban government expressed its "satisfaction" over the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the island next spring and added that it will receive him "with all the respect and love that he deserves," Havana's envoy to the Holy See said Tuesday.

In a note sent to Efe, Eduardo Delgado added that the Cuban government "will do everything within its power to provide (the pope) with a happy stay and so that he retains a very pleasant memory of our people and his stay, as occurred in the case of the blessed John Paul II when he made his trip (to Cuba) in January 1998."

Benedict XVI personally announced on Monday at The Vatican that he will visit Mexico and Cuba prior to Holy Week, which begins April 1.

Although there has been no official confirmation as yet, Vatican sources told Efe that the trip will take place during the second half of March.

The ambassador on Tuesday said that the papal announcement had been received "with special satisfaction by the government and the people" and that the Cuban bishops conference had reiterated "its great joy over the said visit, for which it has worked with great dedication."

This will be Benedict XVI's second visit to Latin America after traveling to Brazil in 2007.

The visit to Cuba coincides with the 400th anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre, the country's patron saint.

The ambassador noted that the image of the saint had been on a tour of the Communist-ruled island since August 2010 and that 2012 will also be the Jubilee Year that will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image.

"The unity between doctrine and revolutionary thought in relation to the faith and the believers has its roots in the same foundations as the Cuban nation and its main basis is the feeling of justice, love of one's neighbor, of equality and of helping those in need, whether it be our own people or those of a sister nation," said the envoy in his communique.