Pope Francis took a moment of silent prayer on Sunday during his Angelus address for the victims of the tragic shipwreck off the coast of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. More than a hundred people are confirmed dead and hundreds more are missing after a ship carrying African migrants sank on Thursday.
Speaking to the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s square, the Holy Father began his address by acknowledging what a gift it was to make his first visit to Assisi on the feast of Saint Francis on October 4, and gave thanks for the warm welcome he received there.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the day, the Pope spoke on the power of faith, inviting the crowds in the square to repeat several times after him: “Lord, increase our faith!” He spoke of those who are simple and humble, or who are experiencing difficulties in their lives, who nonetheless are able to do great things, and maintain a certain serenity, because of their faith.
Pope Francis recalled how the month of October is dedicated in a particular way to missionaries, especially those who proclaim the Gospel despite great obstacles. He said, however, that each and every one of us, “in our own lives, every day, can give witness to Christ, with the strength of God, the strength of faith.”
This strength is attained through prayer. “Prayer is the breath of faith,” the Pope said. In a relationship where there is trust and love, he continued, there needs to be dialogue. “Prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God.”
The Holy Father said the month of October is also the month of the Rosary, noting how it is the tradition on the first Sunday of this month to pray to the Madonna of Pompeii, the blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary. Pope Francis said that the Rosary is “a school of prayer,” and “a school of faith!”
Following the recitation of the Angleus prayer, Pope Francis spoke of Rolando Rivi, a 14 year old seminarian martyred for the faith in 1945, who was declared Blessed on Saturday in Modena. The Pope spoke of how this young man is a great example for the youth of today. “He knew where he had to go… knew the love of Jesus in his heart, and gave his life for Him.” Pope Francis concluded his post-Angelus address by wishing everyone a good Sunday, and a good lunch.