“Two great lights shining in the hearts of believers of East and West”
Addressing faithful and pilgrims from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace, the pope highlighted how different the two men were. Peter was a “humble fisherman” while Paul was a “teacher and doctor.” Yet, the pope added, “if we know of Jesus here in Rome … it is due to the apostolic courage of these two sons of the Near East.”
“They, for the love of Christ, left their homeland and, regardless of the difficulty of the long journey and the risks and suspicions that they would meet, landed in Rome. Here they became heralds and witnesses of the Gospel among the people, and sealed their mission of faith and charity with martyrdom.”
Before praying the traditional Marian prayer of the Angelus, the pope invoked the Virgin Mary under her title in Rome, Salus Populi Romani, and said: “to her we today entrust the whole world, and in particular this city of Rome, that it may always find in its wealth of spiritual and moral values the foundation of its social life and mission in Italy, Europe and the world.”
Here below we publish an English translation of the pope’s address.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Good day. Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, by praising God for their preaching and witness. The Church of Rome was founded on the faith of these two Apostles, whom she has always venerated as patrons. However, it is the entire universal Church that looks to them with admiration, as two columns and two great lights that shine not only in the sky of Rome, but in the hearts of believers of the East and West.
In the account of the Apostles’ mission, the Gospel tells us that Jesus sent them two by two (cf. Mt 10:1; Lk 10:1). In a certain sense, also Peter and Paul were sent from the Holy Land to Rome to preach the Gospel. They were two men very different from each another:
Peter was a “humble fisherman”; Paul a “teacher and doctor,” as today’s liturgy says. But if we know of Jesus here in Rome, and if the Christian faith is a living and vital part of the spiritual heritage and culture of this area, it is due to the apostolic courage of these two sons of the Near East. They, for the love of Christ, left their homeland and, regardless of the difficulty of the long journey and the risks and suspicions that they would meet, landed in Rome. Here they became heralds and witnesses of the Gospel among the people, and sealed their mission of faith and charity with martyrdom.
Peter and Paul today return ideally to us. They retrace the roads of this city; they at the door of our homes, but above all of our hearts. Once again they want to bring Jesus, his merciful love, his consolation, his peace. We need this so much. Let us welcome their message! Let us treasure their testimony! The firm and forthright faith of Peter, the great and universal heart of Paul will help us be joyful Christians, faithful to the Gospel and open to meeting everyone.
During the Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning, I blessed the pallia of the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed over the last year, from different countries. I renew my greetings and best wishes to them, to their families and to all who have accompanied them on this pilgrimage; and I encourage them to continue their mission with joy in service of the Gospel, in communion with the whole Church and especially with the See of Peter, just as the sign of the pallium expresses. At the same celebration, I received with joy and affection the members of the delegation who have to Rome on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch, our beloved brother Bartholomew. This presence is also a sign of the fraternal bonds between our Churches. We pray that the bonds of communion and a common witness may increasingly be strengthened.
To the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, we today entrust the whole world, and in particular this city of Rome, that it may always find in its wealth of spiritual and moral values the foundation of its social life and mission in Italy, Europe and the world.
Translation by Diane Montagna of Aleteia’s English edition.
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