Vatican to Be Guest of Honor at Caribbean Book Fair

Cardinal Ravasi to Represent Pope at Santo Domingo Event

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- An annual cultural event in the Dominican Republic will mark the 500th anniversary of the Diocese of Santo Domingo, the first diocese to be erected on the American continent, and the Vatican has been invited as the guest of honor.

The Santo Domingo International Book Fair each year draws international editors, famous literary personalities and large crowds for several days of diverse cultural events and a vast book exhibition and sale. The annual event began in 1973 and went international in 1998.

A press conference today at the Vatican announced that the Holy See has been invited to the May 4-22 fair as the guest of honor.

The Dominican Republic will also be honoring two Jesuits at the event: Monsignor Francisco Arnaiz and Father José Luis Sáez.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, joined with the Dominican Republic's ambassador to the Holy See and the director of the Vatican Publishing House at the press conference.

Cardinal Ravasi said this "will be the first time that the Holy See participates as a guest of honor at an international book fair."

The cardinal will be the Pope's delegate at the event.

He reported that an agreement has been signed between the Holy See and the Santo Domingo Ministry of Culture, including plans for the participation of 20 lecturers, art exhibitions, concerts and other events.

"The Vatican delegation will donate a considerable number of books by Catholic authors, which will subsequently be given to schools and public libraries in Santo Domingo, in order to promote greater knowledge of contemporary Catholic literature among newer generations of Santo Domingans," the cardinal added.

The design and construction of the Vatican's pavilion will be entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican Publishing House, the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Vatican Secret Archives.

Various Vatican communications institutions will also participate in the fair.