When we passed through Rome on the way to our home countries, we had the gift of being able to greet Pope Francis. It was on a Wednesday during the General Audience.
St. Peter’s Square was packed with pilgrims from everywhere. It is a miracle of our faith to see gathered together various kinds of people, from such different conditions, united by the love for the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth.
As is the tradition, after the catechesis the Holy Father came down from the stage and approached the people to greet them. We felt a palpable atmosphere of celebration and joy. There were also some Argentine groups, singing and applauding with that inspiration that characterizes them. On his way along the guardrail, the Pope joked and chatted with each person with a dedication that was unique – it is as if time stops during those moments. It is as if there was no one else in the square!
Finally it was our turn. I greeted him and introduced ourselves as missionaries in Syria. Instantly the laughter was gone and the countenance of the Pope Francis saddened, unable to hide the deep pain that this war has caused him. We talked a bit about the situation and conveyed to him the gratitude of our people for his prayers. It lasted only a few moments, but they were very intense. Saying goodbye to us, the face of the Successor of Peter lighted up again as he encouraged us with lively enthusiasm “Keep going forward in the missions! Keep going forward!”
Best regards to everyone.
Missionaries in Aleppo, Syria.