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This mutilated crucifix represents the restoration Colombia needs

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Pope Francis prayed before it today: "together with your arms and feet they have torn away your children"

A crucifix mutilated in an explosion in a church symbolizes the reconciliation Colombia is seeking, which Pope Francis is trying to solidify with his trip here.

The Crucifix of Bojayá was taken on a four-day journey to Villavicencio, where the pope is participating in a prayer meeting for national reconciliation.

The bomb that damaged the crucifix was thrown into a church by the FARC on May 2, 2002; more than 100 people were killed, including a large number of children.

Ever since, the image has been kept in Bellavista, where, according to the Colombian bishops’ conference, it “symbolizes the fractured lives of people and communities, and reflects the sorrow of Colombian society.”

The crucifix was brought to today’s prayer service in a pilgrimage “symbolizing what life is, the significance of beginning a new path, and above all, the challenge to take a step toward reconciliation, represented by the pope’s visit.”

Bishop Héctor Fabio Henao, one of the episcopal conference officials, said the image is “a call to restore the dignity lost by those who committed violence and those who suffered it.”

“It is a call to reconstruct the social fabric, to hope, to rediscover trust, to look toward the future, to look ahead with the goal of building a society that is able with its relationships to keep us from returning to the atrocities of the past,” he said.

Here is the prayer Pope Francis said before the crucifix in today’s ceremony:

O black Christ of Bojayá,
who remind us of your passion and death; together with your arms and feet
they have torn away your children
who sought refuge in you.

O black Christ of Bojayá,
who look tenderly upon us and in whose face is serenity; your heart beats
so that we may be received in your love.

O black Christ of Bojayá,
Grant us to commit ourselves to restoring your body. May we be your feet that go forth to encounter
our brothers and sisters in need; your arms to embrace
those who have lost their dignity; your hands to bless and console those who weep alone.

Make us witnesses
to your love and infinite mercy.

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