SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES
Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today we celebrate the Feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, praising God for their preaching and their witness. On the faith of these two Apostles was founded the Church of Rome, which has always venerated them as Patrons. However, the entire universal Church, which looks to them with admiration, considers them as two pillars and two great lights that shine not only in the sky of Rome, but in the heart of believers of the East and of the West.
In the narrative of the Apostles’ mission, the Gospel tells us that Jesus sent them out two by two (cf. Mt 10:5; Lk 10:1). In a certain sense Peter and Paul too, from the Holy Land, were sent as far as Rome to preach the Gospel. The two men were very different from one another: Peter a “humble fisherman”, Paul a “teacher and doctor”, as recited in today’s liturgy. But if we know Jesus here in Rome, and if the Christian faith is a living and fundamental part of the spiritual patrimony and of the culture of this territory, it is due to the apostolic courage of these two sons of the Near East. Out of love for Christ they left their homeland and, undaunted by the difficulty of the long journey or by the risks and diffidence they were sure to encounter, they arrived in Rome. Here they proclaimed and witnessed to the Gospel among the people, and with their martyrdom they sealed their mission of faith and charity.
Today Peter and Paul return ideally among us, retracing the streets of this City, knocking at the doors of our houses, but above all of our hearts. They want yet again to bring Jesus, his merciful love, his consolation, his peace. We have great need of this! Let us receive their message! Let us treasure their testimony! The sincere and steadfast faith of Peter, the great and universal heart of Paul will help us to be joyful Christians, faithful to the Gospel and open to the encounter with everyone.
During the Holy Mass in St Peter’s Basilica this morning, I blessed the Pallia of the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed this past year, who have come from various countries. I renew my greeting and my prayerful good wishes to them, to their relatives and to those who have accompanied them on this pilgrimage; and I encourage them to continue with joy their mission in service to the Gospel, in communion with the whole Church and especially with the See of Peter, as expressed by the very symbol of the Pallium. In the same celebration, with joy and affection I welcomed the Members of the Delegation who have come to Rome on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch, my dearest Brother Bartholomew. This presence, too, is a sign of the fraternal bonds existing between our Churches. Let us pray that the bonds of communion and common witness may be strengthened ever more.
To the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, let us entrust today the entire world, and in particular the City of Rome, that it might always find in its spiritual and moral wealth and values the foundation of its civil life and of its mission in Italy, in Europe, and in the world.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, last evening, in Istanbul, a brutal terrorist attack was carried out, killing and injuring many people. Let us pray for the victims, for the families and for the dear people of Turkey. May the Lord convert the hearts of violent people and support our steps on the path of peace. Let us all pray in silence.
[A moment of silence]
Recently concluded in Rome was the International Conference on impact investing, entitled: “Making the Year of Mercy a Year of Impact for the Poor”. May both private and public investments enable many marginalized people to overcome poverty.
I address a cordial greeting to all of you, families, parish groups, associations and individual faithful from Italy and from many parts of the world, particularly from Spain, Ukraine and China. I greet Catholic-school students from London and from the United States of America, as well as Sisters of the USMI from Lombardy.
Today my greeting goes above all to the faithful of Rome, on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, Patrons of the City! For this occasion the Pro Loco of Rome has sponsored the traditional Infiorata, created by various artists and Civil Service volunteers. Thank you for this initiative and for the beautiful floral decorations! I also wish to acknowledge the fireworks display that took place last evening in Piazza del Popolo, the proceeds of which will go to support works of charity in the Holy Land and in countries of the Middle East.
I wish you all a happy feast day, the Feast of the Patron Saints of Rome. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch! Arrivederci!