Pope: St. Francis, Icon of Christ


  • Category:

(27 Jan 10 - RV) On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember "the horror of crimes of unprecedented cruelty, committed in the extermination camps established by Nazi Germany," especially the planned annihilation of the Jews "and also how many" risked their lives, to protect the persecuted, opposing the murderous folly. "

The "innumerable victims of blind racial and religious, hatred who suffered deportation, imprisonment, death in those aberrant and inhuman places " were also remembered Wednesday by Pope Benedict XVI who prayed that "the memory of these facts, particularly the tragedy of the Holocaust that affected the Jewish people, will inspire an increasingly convinced respect for the dignity of every person, that all men perceive themselves to be one great family. Almighty God enlighten hearts and minds, so that such tragedies never happen again".

In remembering the Holocaust the Pope concluded his general audience delivered in the Paul VI Hall. His catechesis continued his reflection on the life of the Church in the Middle Ages, but this week he dwelt on the figure of a man and a saint who is deeply loved by believers and non-believers a like and who still today inspires millions worldwide. St Francis of Assisi:

"The story of Saint Francis' life and conversion, and his complete devotion to Christ, poor and suffering, is well known. After gathering a small group of companions and followers, including Saint Clare, Francis sought the approval of Pope Innocent III for his movement which was completely committed to the renewal of the Church in holiness and to the preaching of the Gospel".

In comments in Italian, the Holy Father recalled a dream had by Innocent III in 1207 in which "the Lateran Basilica was collapsing, and a small and contemptible religious friar bears the weight of the Church on his shoulders so it will not fall". Pope Benedict observed that "Innocent III was a" powerful pope, of great theological and political culture, but he is not called upon to prop up the church, rather a small religious", but nonetheless a religious who is not alone, but in communion with the Pope. Together" observed Pope Benedict "true renewal is born".

Another aspect of Franciscan spirituality highlight Wednesday was the saint as a model in dialogue with Islam. "In 1219 Francis was allowed to travel to Egypt to meet with the Muslim sultan Melek el-Kamel". "In an era when there was a clash between Christianity and Islam, Francis, deliberately armed with only his faith and gentleness, effectively travelled the path of dialogue. The chronicles tell us of the benign and friendly welcome he received from the Muslim sultan. It is a model that should inspire relations between Christians and Muslims even today, to promote a dialogue in truth, in mutual respect and mutual understanding".

"Near the end of his life, Francis' configuration to the Crucified Lord culminated in his reception of the stigmata at La Verna. His deep piety found expression in a great devotion to the Eucharist, as the sacrament of Christ's real presence, and his love for creation as God's handiwork. The life and teaching of Saint Francis has inspired countless people to the imitation of Christ through the embrace of inward and outward poverty".

A "giant of holiness," a "truly living icon of Christ," St Francis, concluded Pope Benedict, is also " a model for priests and the precursor of a just love for Creation".