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Pope Asks For Prayers Before Mexico-Cuba Trip

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A welcoming banner hangs from a railing at Our Lady of Guanajuato Basilic at the Peace Plaza, where Pope Benedict XVI will greet children next March 25, in Guanajuato, Guanajuato state, Mexico. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Mexico between March 23 and 26 in his first visit to the country. / OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images
A welcoming banner hangs from a railing at Our Lady of Guanajuato Basilic at the Peace Plaza, where Pope Benedict XVI will greet children next March 25, in Guanajuato, Guanajuato state, Mexico. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Mexico between March 23 and 26 in his first visit to the country. / OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has asked for prayers for his upcoming trip to Mexico and Cuba.

Sunday marks the last time Benedict will greet the general public before his visit gets under way Friday. His traditional Wednesday audience was canceled for this week so Benedict, who turns 85 next month, can rest up before the long trip.

Speaking in Spanish from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, Benedict asked Sunday for prayers for the six-day trip, which will take him to central Mexico's Guanajuato state and the Cuban cities of Santiago and Havana.

He said he was going to "confirm the faith of Christians in these beloved nations and all of Latin America" and to help spur progress in both countries with a renewal of the faith.