Pope Francis has ended his three-day visit to Romania, held under a significant motto, ‘Let us walk together!’
'May the Virgin Mary give her
mother blessing to all Romanian citizens, who during history have put their trust
in her intercession. I entrust you all to Virgin Mary and pray that she may
guide you on the path of faith' Pope Francis wrote in a touching message posted
on Twitter on Sunday night in the plane that was carrying him back to the
Vatican after the visit he had paid to Romania.
Under the suggestive motto, 'Let us
walk together!', the Pontiff paid a three-day pastoral and ecumenical visit to
Romania, which was welcomed by the Romanians with warmth and eagerness. Many
Romanians took to the streets to see Pope Francis, one of the most beloved
Pontiffs, whose popularity resides in his humanity, modesty and austerity.
The first day, which he spent in
Bucharest, was marked by moments of symbolical and historical nature. Pope
Francis was received by President Klaus Iohannis and held talks with the
country's Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. He visited the Patriarchy Palace,
where he had a private meeting with Daniel, the Patriarch of the Romanian
Orthodox Church; he delivered a speech at the National Cathedral and said the
Lord's Prayer in Latin.
Pope Francis also held a mass at
St. Joseph's Cathedral and hailed the tens of thousands who came to see him. On
the second day of his visit, Pope Francis held a Pontifical Liturgy at the
Marian Shrine in Sumuleu Ciuc, eastern Transylvania, an area mainly inhabited
by ethnic Hungarians, which sees the largest annual Catholic pilgrimage in
Central and Eastern Europe.
Pope Francis: "This annual
pilgrimage belongs to the Transylvanian heritage, but brings honour to both the
Romanian and Hungarian traditions. Christians of other denominations are
participating in it as this is the symbol of dialogue, unity and fraternity."
After Sumuleu Ciuc, His Holiness
left for Iasi, in north-eastern Romania, a city that boasts a large community
of Catholic believers. 'Romania is the Garden of the Virgin Mary and during
this visit I realized this because she is a Mother who cultivates the dreams of
her sons and daughters, who guards their expectations and brings joy to their
homes', the Pontiff also said.
Pope Francis also paid a visit to
the Holy Virgin Mary Queen Cathedral and blessed 800 children, old and sick
people and prayed together with those present for young people and families.
Roughly 150 thousand pilgrims attended the ceremonies but the most important
moment of the Pope's visit was the beatification of the seven Eastern Catholic
bishops martyred by the Communist regime.
Pope Francis: "We have in
mind the seven Greek Catholic bishops, whom we've had the joy of proclaiming
Happy now. They proved their faith and exemplary love for their people during
the fierce persecution of the regime. With great courage and inner strength
they endured tough detention conditions and other cruel abuses and refused to give
up their faith and belonging to their beloved church. These martyr priests have
regained and left a precious heritage to the Romanian people, which we can sum
up in two words: freedom and mercy."
In Blaj, central Romania, Pope
Francis met representatives of the Roma community, whom he asked for
forgiveness for being discriminated against along the centuries. Pope Francis'
visit comes 20 years after the one paid by Pope John Paul ll, the first to a
country with an Orthodox majority.
'I go back richer, taking with me
places and moments, but mainly faces. Your faces will bring colour to my
memories and will be present in my prayers. I thank you and carry you along!,
the Pontiff went on to say at the end of his visit to Romania.
(translated by bill)