“A heinous terrorist attack was carried out in Istanbul last night. Many people were killed and injured. Let us pray for the victims, their families, and for the dear Turkish people”. The bells of St. Peter’s basilica, all decked out for the celebration of the patron saints, ring a sign of celebration, but the Pope’s heart is full of pain for the cowardly attack that shook Turkey once again. “May the Lord convert the hearts of violent people – he said – and support our steps on the way of peace. Let us all pray in silence”.
The Urbe rejoiced celebrating its patron saints, the apostles Peter and Paul. Bergoglio invited the faithful to praise God “for these Saints’ preaching and testimony.” In fact, “the Church of Rome is founded on the faith of these two disciples.” However, the capital of Italy is not the only one to remember them. “The whole universal Church looks at them with admiration, considering them to be two columns and two large lights that shine not only in the sky of Rome, but in the hearts of all believers in the East and in the West”.
The Gospel passage on the mission of the Apostles, “tells us that Jesus sent them out two by two. In a sense, also Peter and Paul were sent away from the Holy Land – the Pope said -, to preach the Gospel in Rome. These two men were very different: Peter was a ‘humble fisherman’, Paul was a ‘teacher and doctor’, according to today’s liturgy.” Recalling the journey of the two saints, Francis pointed out that “if we know about Jesus here in Rome, if the Christian faith is an alive and vital part of the spiritual heritage and of the culture of this area, it is due to the apostolic courage of these two sons of the Near East”. For the “love of Christ”, they left their land and, “regardless of the difficulties of the long journey and of the risks and suspicions they would have met, they landed in Rome”. Here, they became “heralds and witnesses of the Gospel” among the people, then seal “their mission of faith and charity with martyrdom”.
Ideally, the two apostles “are now back among us, walking along the streets of this city, knocking at the door of our homes, but especially at those of our hearts – the Pope said -. They want to bring Jesus, his merciful love, his consolation, and his peace again.” And today “we need this more than ever! Let us welcome their message! Let us treasure their testimony! Peter’s firm and forthright faith, Paul’s great and universal heart will help us be joyful Christians, faithful to the Gospel ,and open to the encounter with other people.”
Pope Francis has greeted the archbishops he has appointed this year, who concelebrated Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica together with the Pope, blessing the pallia, a symbol of the shepherd who guides his flock. “I encourage them to continue their mission in the service of the Gospel with joy, in communion with the whole Church and especially with the Peter’s See, as expressed by the pallium sign”. Also the members of the delegation came to Rome on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew attended the Eucharistic celebration. “This presence – Francis said – is a sign of the fraternal ties between our Churches. Let us pray for the bonds of communion and common testimony to keep growing stronger”.
“To the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, we entrust the whole world today, especially the city of Rome, so they can always find the spiritual and moral values that enrich the foundation of its social life and its mission in Italy, Europe, and in the world.”
After the Angelus, Bergoglio addressed the warmest greeting “to the faithful of Rome, during the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Patrons of the City! For this anniversary of Rome, the “Pro Loco” has promoted the traditional Flower Festival, created by several artists and volunteers in Civil Service. Thank you for this initiative and for the beautiful floral representations! I also want to mention the fireworks show that will take place in Piazza del Popolo tonight, whose proceeds will be donated to support charitable works in the Holy Land and in the countries of the Middle East.” Then, as customary, followed the Pope’s characteristic leave-taking: “I wish you all a good holiday, the holiday of the patrons of Rome. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and good-bye!”