Vatican City (AsiaNews) – It was almost a missionary mandate - "communicate the gift of Friendship with Christ to your peers” with joy and enthusiasm, without fear - for 55 thousand "ministers", or altar servers, who today flooded St. Peter's Square, making not only the square a “happier place” but as Benedict XVI said, "also my heart."
It was therefore a very special General Audience. The square was transformed into a multi coloured sea of red, yellow, blue, blue and green of the thousands of shirts and scarves worn by the Altar Servers. Even the Pope wore one a white one, recalling that he, too, once was an altar boy. A memory he relived in an address almost entirely in German, since on this pilgrimage, organized by Coetus Ministrantium Internationalis (ICD), 47 thousand were from Germany.
A festive gathering, apart from tone sad note contained in the appeal launched by Benedict XVI at the end of the meeting, for the "people affected by severe natural disasters." "In particular, I think of the vast fires in the Russian Federation and the devastating floods in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I pray to the Lord for the victims and I am spiritually close in spirit to those who have suffered such adversities. I ask God to relieve their suffering and support them in their difficulties. I also hope that the solidarity of all will not fail”.
Returning to the altar servers, on the steps in front of the basilica stood a giant statue in bronze of St Tarcisius, patron saint of altar servers, which will be placed at the catacombs of St. Callistus, where the martyr was buried. Recalling that the image arrived in Rome after a long pilgrimage, which started in September 2008 in Switzerland, the pope drew a clearer picture, of "this brave and strong young man”.
Benedict XVI added, "we do not have much information about him, we are in the early centuries of Church history. It is said that he was a young man who frequented the catacombs and loved his duties. We think he was an acolyte, an altar boy". It was the era of Valerian persecution, when Christians were forced to meet in their homes to pray. "Even bringing the Eucharist to the sick and the prisoners was very dangerous, one day when the priest asked who was going to take it, Tarcisius said 'send me'. To the priest’s protests, who thought him too young, he said 'my youth will be my best defence'. The priest then said 'Tarcisius, remember that a heavenly treasure is entrusted to your weak care. Avoid busy streets and do not forget that holy things must not be thrown to the dogs nor gems to swine. Will you safeguard the Sacred Mysteries with fidelity and security? '. 'I will die rather than relinquish them’. Along the way, he met some friends who asked him to join them”.
"When he declined they became suspicious and noted that he was holding something to his chest that appeared valuable”. T hey discovered that he was a Christian, he was beaten to death and brought back to the catacombs". The Blessed Sacrament On his was found on his body. "It had become part of his body." It was 257.
The witness of St. Tarcisius, the Pope continued, "shows us the great love we must have towards the Eucharist", a "treasure that we can not measure", "an open road to eternal life," the greatest gift that Jesus has left us". "Serve Jesus generously in the Eucharist. It 'a task that allows you to be particularly close to the Lord and to grow as his friends. " And "communicate to your peers the gift of this friendship, with joy and enthusiasm, without fear”.
“You are lucky to live near this great mystery, carry out your task with love and devotion. Prepare yourselves well for Holy Mass ", helping priests, you can become closer to Jesus," He will not fail to reward you, giving you true joy, and complete happiness". San Tarcisius has shown that you can even give your life for a greater good. "Martyrdom Is probably not demanded of us, but Jesus does demand our loyalty."