11/02/2017, 19.34
VATICAN – ITALY
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Pope prays at the Ardeatine Caves

Francis addressed the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob” who made covenant with man, forever, the “God of each of the 335 men murdered”.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today, the Feast of All Souls, prayed at the Ardeatine Caves Memorial, near Rome, site of thea massacre on 24 March 1944 of 335 men and boys at the hands of German soldiers. Before this, he visited the Nettuno US War Cemetery and Memorial (pictured).  After returning to the Vatican, the pontiff he prayed at the grotto under St Peter's Basilica where many popes are buried.

As he made his way into the Caves, Francis placed a rose on some of the graves. This was followed by a prayer in Hebrew by Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, followed by Francis’s address to the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, Jacob. With this name, you presented Yourself to free Your people from the slavery of Egypt. You observed the misery of Your people, and said ‘I know their sufferings’.”

“God of each of the 335 men murdered herein whose remains lie in these tombs. You know their faces and their names. You are not the God of the dead but of the living. Oh Lord,” the pope said raising his voice, “make sure that we remove the shackles of selfishness and indifference, and that through the burning bush of this mausoleum, we may listen to Your name.”

As he said in his last Angelus, the Holy Father asked the Lord “to accompany me with prayer in these two stages of memory and suffrage for the victims of war and of violence. Wars produce nothing other than cemeteries and death: that’s why I wished to give this sign in a moment where our humanity seems not to have learned the lesson or not wanting to learn it.”

Around 6 pm, Francis returned to the Vatican and prayed in private in the Grotto under the Basilica in remembrance of the popes buried therein and of all the deceased.

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