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Pope Francis waved as he arrived by boat from Giudecca Island to the Basilica of St. Mary of Health in Venice April 28 to meet with young people.
Pope Francis waved as he arrived by boat from Giudecca Island to the Basilica of St. Mary of Health in Venice April 28 to meet with young people.
Photo Credit: Lola Gomez | Catholic News Service

Like Venice, people are beautiful, fragile, pope says on visit

Pope Francis visited the city of Venice on April 28

VENICE, Italy — Visiting a lagoon of tiny islands, canals and narrow walkways for one day, Pope Francis moved around Venice by boat, bridge and electric golf cart.

Tourists and residents, however, came to a standstill; many were marooned in small neighborhoods as security shut down entire streets and severely limited regular waterway traffic.

The pope’s early morning touchdown by helicopter from Rome April 28 brought him first to a women’s prison, then by wooden motorboat to the Basilica of St. Mary of Health, a 17th-century church built to honor Mary, invoking her protection and intercession to end a devastating plague that killed nearly one-third of the population in the 1630s.

Pope Francis gave a blessing to a female detainee inside the courtyard of the Giudecca women’s prison in Venice April 28.
Photo Credits: Vatican Media
About 1,500 young people were in front of the basilica singing and cheering to greet the pope as he arrived waving from the boat decorated with a small Vatican flag. He took his place on a chair near the steps looking out onto the turquoise-blue water.

“Arise and go!” he told them. “Open your heart to God, thank Him and embrace the beauty that you are; fall in love with your life.”

“Walk together with others, color the world with your creativity and paint the streets of life with the Gospel,” he said.

Young people must resist inertia and discouragement, he said, “because we are made for heaven.” Tell God, “Here I am!” and recognize and welcome the gift of being made “precious and irreplaceable.”

But, just like Venice, the pope said, people are beautiful and fragile at the same time. Take care of these fragilities and recognize that God always extends a hand, not to blame or punish, but to heal and lift people back up.

Accompanied by a delegation of young people, Pope Francis then went by electric golf cart to St. Mark’s Square by crossing a “bridge of boats,” a floating pontoon bridge that is a traditional Venetian way of temporarily connecting opposite shores. Guests, some still in bathrobes, staying at a waterfront hotel peered out their large balcony windows to see the unusual sight.

More than 10,000 people packed the huge square for Mass and to pray the “Regina Coeli.” In his homily, the pope said Jesus’ metaphor of being the grapevine while believers are the branches “expresses God’s loving care for us; it also warns us that if we sever this connection with the Lord, we cannot produce fruits of good life and risk becoming dry branches, which will be cast aside.”

“This is what matters: to remain in the Lord, to dwell in Him,” which does not mean standing still or being passive. “Indeed, it invites us to move, because to remain in the Lord means to grow in relationship with him.”

“As we gaze upon this city of Venice today, we admire its enchanting beauty. Yet, we are also concerned about the many issues that threaten it: climate change, which impacts the waters of the lagoon and the land,” he said.

He highlighted the problems facing the city’s architecture, cultural heritage and people, noting “the difficulty of creating an environment that is fit for human beings through adequate tourism management.”

After Mass and the “Regina Coeli” prayer, the pope greeted the faithful in the square and went into St. Mark’s Basilica to venerate the relics of St. Mark the Evangelist. He also greeted local volunteers who assisted with the visit and then returned to Rome by helicopter. By early afternoon, the streets, squares and waterways of Venice were again freed up for the throngs of visitors.

From the Archive Module

Like Venice people are beautiful fragile pope says on visit 9588

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