(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Ardeatine Caves Memorial on the Feast of All Souls to commemorate those who lost their lives in the horror of war.
Rome’s Ardeatine Caves are the site of a 1944 massacre of 335 Italian civilian men and boys in revenge for an attack by resistance fighters who killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit.
The Pope spent some time in prayer at the Memorial and then gave a brief reflection.
This is Vatican Radio’s unofficial translation of his words :
God of Abraham, of Isaac, God of Jacob: with this name, You presented Yourself to Moses when You revealed to him Your desire to free your people from the slavery of Egypt. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, God who binds Himself in a pact with humanity, God who binds Himself with a covenant of faithful love forever, merciful and compassionate to every man and every people suffering oppression. “I have observed the misery of my people, I have heard their cry, I know their sufferings.” God of the faces and names, God of each of the 335 men murdered here, on March 24, 1944, whose remains lie in these tombs. You, Lord, know their faces and their names: all, even those of the 12, who remain unknown to us. To You, no one is unknown. God of Jesus, our Father in Heaven: thanks to Him, the Risen Christ, we know that your name – God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob – means You are not the God of the dead but of the living , that Your faithful covenant of love is stronger than death and is a guarantee of resurrection. O Lord, that in this place devoted to the memory of the fallen for freedom and justice we might put off the shackles of selfishness and indifference, and through the burning bush of this mausoleum, listen silently to Your name: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of Jesus, God of the living. Amen.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) After celebrating Mass to mark All Souls Day at the Nettuno American War Cemetery on Thursday, Pope Francis travelled to the Ardeatine Caves where he spent time in prayer at the memorial to victims of a Second World War massacre.
The Ardeatine caves, or Fosse Ardeatine as they’re called in Italian, are located on the south-eastern outskirts of Rome, on the site of a disused volcanic ash quarry.
Listen to our report:
It was there on March 24th 1944 that German occupying troops carried out a massacre of 335 Italian men of all ages and backgrounds. They were shot at close range, in retaliation for a partisan attack in the city centre the previous day that had killed 33 German policemen.
Hitler himself authorized the reprisal, which called for 10 Italians to be rounded up and shot for each victim of the attack in the central Via Rasella. Those killed in the caves represented a cross section of Italian society, some already in jail, including 57 Jews, others rounded up by security police in the vicinity of the attack. The youngest was a teenage boy, while the oldest was a man in his late 70s.
Massacre site discovered
The victims were forced to kneel in groups of five and shot with a bullet to the back of the head. Their bodies were piled up and covered with rocks inside the caves, which were then sealed with explosives.
It was not the war was over, more than a year later, that the massacre site was uncovered and the victims were exhumed for burial. Subsequently, the caves were declared a memorial cemetery and national monument.
Every year, on the anniversary of the killings, a solemn State commemoration is held at the monument. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have also visited the site to pay tribute to these innocent victims of war.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of All Souls Day on Thursday commemorating all those who have died in war, reminding humanity not to forget past lessons and warning that the only fruit yielded by conflict is death. His words of warning and his powerful condemnation of warmongers came during his homily at the Sicily-Rome American War Cemetery some 50 kilometers south of Rome. Taking the occasion to reiterate his deep conviction that “wars produce nothing more than cemeteries and death” the Pope said he chose to visit a war cemetery as a sign “in a moment when our humanity seems not to have learned the lesson, or doesn’t want to learn it.” The Nettuno US War Cemetery and Memorial is the final resting place for thousands of men who died during military operations carried out to liberate Italy – from Sicily to Rome – from Nazi Germany. Its chapel contains a list of the 3095 missing. Pope Francis arrived at the War Cemetery early in the afternoon so that he could spend time reflecting and paying his personal respects to the 7,860 – mostly young – soldiers who gave their lives in the name of freedom and respect for humanity. Walking in poignant silence between the rows and rows of tombstones, Pope Francis bowed to read some of the names and dates inscribed in the white marble: stark reminders of the fact – as he stated during his homily – that the only fruit of war is death. To the somber congregation gathered on this holy day to honour all those who have died, Pope Francis said he chose to come to a place where thousands died in bloody combat, to appeal to the Lord – yet again “Please God: stop them. No more war. No more useless carnage.” The Pope delivered his off-the-cuff homily with an emotion charged by the dramatic setting provided by hundreds of thousands of graves of young men whose hopes – he said – were cruelly severed, at a time in which the world is again at war and is even preparing to step-up war. “Please God – he prayed – everything is lost with war” “There are men, Francis said, who are doing everything to declare war and to enter into conflict. They end up destroying themselves and everything.” Remarking on the fact that today is a day of hope, but also of tears, he said that the tears wept by those who have lost husbands, sons and friends at war should never be forgotten. “But humanity, the Pope continued, has not learnt the lesson and seems not to want to learn the lesson”. Let us pray, he said, in a special way for all those young people caught up in conflict, “many of whom are dying every day in this piecemeal war”. And he remembered the thousands of innocent children who are also paying the price of war. “Let us ask the Lord, Pope Francis concluded, to give us the grace to weep”. (from Vatican Radio)…CONTINUE READING