2013-07-21 14:50:23

Pope's message marking 70th anniversary of San Lorenzo bombing

(Vatican Radio) To mark the seventieth anniversary of the first violent bombardment of San Lorenzo , Pope Francis sent the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, the following message. Below is a Vatican Radio English language translation of the message to Cardinal Agostino Vallini Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome

The community of Capuchin Friars and all gathered in the Basilica of San Lorenzo outside the walls are spiritually united with you, to commemorate the violent bombing of July 19, 1943, which inflicted serious damage to the sacred building and the entire district, as well as to other areas of the city, spreading death and destruction. Seventy years later, the commemoration of that event particularly dramatic is an occasion to pray for those who have gone and a renewed meditation around the terrible scourge of war, as well as an expression of gratitude to the man who was an attentive and provident father.

I refer to the Venerable Pius XII, who, in those terrible hours, came close to his fellow citizens so badly affected. Pope Pacelli did not hesitate to come, immediately and without escort, among the still smoking ruins of the District of San Lorenzo, in order to help and console the frightened. Even at that time he showed himself to be a caring pastor who is in the midst of his flock, especially in times of trial, ready to share in the sufferings of his people. With him, I would like to remember all those who, in such a dramatic moment, collaborated in offering moral and material help in healing the wounds of body and soul and in providing assistance to the homeless. Among others, I wish to make mention of Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, then Deputy Secretary of State, who accompanied Pius XII in the visit to the area just devastated by bombs.

The gesture is a sign of Pope Pacelli’s incessant work for the Holy See and the Church in its various forms, parishes, religious institutes, boarding schools, to give relief to the population. Many Bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout Italy were like the Good Samaritan in the Gospel parable, leaning on his brother in pain, to help him and give him consolation and hope. That was an act of charity that stretched to every human being in danger and in need of friendship and support.

The memory of the bombing of that dramatic day resonates once again in each of the words of Pope Pius XII: "Nothing is lost with peace, everything can be lost with war." (Radio Message, August 24, 1939). Peace is a gift of God, to find such open hearts to receive him and to work to be builders of peace and reconciliation.

I commend all the inhabitants of the district of San Lorenzo, especially the elderly, the sick, the lonely and distressed to the maternal intercession of Mary, Salus Populi Romani. She, the Virgin of tenderness and consolation, builds faith, hope and charity in order to spread the love and mercy of God

With these sentiments, I assure my prayers and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

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