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(Vatican Radio) Ahead of reciting the Easter Marian hymn, Regina Caeli, for the last time this year on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis had a special message for the estimated 200 thousand men, women and children gathered before for him in St. Peter’s Square and stretching back right to the banks of the Tiber. He told them; “You are a gift and a treasure for the Church”. Emer McCarthy reports: The vast majority gathered to the Vatican Sunday morning were members of the New Movements and Ecclesial Communities – all formed by lay Catholics - that the Pope had convoked to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost together with him, as part of the Year of Faith. The Feast which falls 50 days after Easter, marks the end of the Easter season. It commemorates Christ’s sending the Holy Spirit down upon his Apostles in the Upper Room and the birth of the Church. Speaking from the raised altar in front of St Peter’s basilica, where he had celebrated Mass for the Feast, before imparting his final blessing Pope Francis said: “Dear brothers and sisters, this celebration of faith, which began yesterday with the Vigil and culminated in the Eucharist this morning is about to end. A new Pentecost has transformed St. Peter's Square into an open-air Upper Room. We have relived the experience of the early Church, who gathered in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14). We, too, in the variety of our charisms, have experienced the beauty of the unity, of being One. And this is the work of the Holy Spirit, who always creates unity anew in the Church. I would like to thank all the Movements, Associations, Communities and Ecclesial groups. You are a gift and a treasure for the Church! This is what you are! I particularly thank all of you who have come to Rome from many parts of the world. Always bring with you the power of the Gospel! Do not be afraid! Always have joy and passion for communion in the Church! May the Risen Lord be with you always and Our Lady protect you! Let us remember in prayer the people of Emilia Romagna, who on 20 May last year were affected by an earthquake. I also pray for the Italian Federation of Voluntary Associations in Oncology”. Pope Francis then stepped away from the altar, moving to the left of the basilica façade, where the icon of Our Lady, dearly beloved of the Roman faithful Salus populi romani, was enthroned. There he reached out and placed a hand upon the icon as the Regina Caeli rang out across the ocean of faithful marking the end of Easter time. As of Monday the Church enters Ordinary Time. But not without one last word from Pope Francis. Before once again touring through the throng in his open topped jeep, all the way down to Via della Conciliazione, the Pope bid everyone goodbye in his own way: “Brothers and sisters, thank you so much for your love for the Church! Have a good Sunday, a blessed feast day and a good lunch!...Read More...
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