On All Souls Day Pope Francis visited the Catacombs of Priscilla and offered a Mass in its small chapel.
On All Souls Day, a day in the liturgical calendar that is set aside to remember all the deceased, Pope Francis visited a Christian catacomb for the first time, celebrating Mass in the small chapel of the Catacombs of Priscilla.
He did so to recall the memory of the first Christian martyrs as well as reflect on the reality of Christians today who are persecuted for their faith and have to hide their Christianity.
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis said in his homily, “it reminds us of those who are persecuted for the faith – not only the ancient Christians, but Christians today, who have to pretend to have a party or celebrate a birthday in order to participate in the liturgy. The Holy Father recalled once again that there are many places, even today, where that is true; indeed there are even more Christians persecuted today than in the ages of persecution.”
He encouraged Christians to remain steadfast in their faith in the midst of such persecution, using the analogy of an anchor and a rope.
“[O]ur hope is in heaven, our hope is anchored there, and we, with the rope in our hand, support ourselves by looking at the bank of the river we have to cross.”Even if we can’t see the other side, we must cling to the rope, he said: “This is important, clinging to the rope!” Often, he concluded, “we will only see the rope, not even the anchor, or the other shore… but clinging to the rope, you will arrive safely” on the other side.
Martyrs are everywhere today, says Pope Francis, and we should imitate them with our daily self-denials