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At the service of common good

· Benedict XVI to the staff of the Palace of Belém ·

On Tuesday, 11 May, after the Welcome Ceremony at the Airport of Lisbon, the Holy Father stopped at the Apostolic Nunciature, where he was staying, on his way to the Jeronimos Monastery. This 16th-century building was presented to the Order of the Friars of St Jerome by King Manuel i. Today visiting Heads of State are received here and it was here that the European Union's new Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007. President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and his wife greeted the Pope outside the building and the Holy Father and the Patriarch of Lisbon entered the ancient, now empty, Church of St Mary of Belém. The Pope then prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. He also paid a brief visit to the cloister. Next on the Pope's schedule was a Courtesy Visit to the President of the Republic in the Palace of Belém, Lisbon. Here the Pope signed the Visitors' Book. After an exchange of gifts the Holy Father spoke privately to the President and his wife. At the end of their meeting they greeted the personnel gathered in the garden. The following is a translation of the Pope's greeting to the staff of the Palace of Belém, which was given in Portuguese.

Dear Friends,

In the course of my visit to the President, I could not omit to visit and greet you who work here in the service of the high responsibilities of the Presidency of the Republic, taking care of this fine Palace and of the people who live here or are received here. For my part, I express to you my sincere gratitude, wishing you every success in your respective duties. I assure you of a special remembrance in my prayers for each one of you and for your families. May the good Lord in heaven bless you and strengthen you with his grace and his light, so that, through the consideration that you show to one another in your workplace and through your solicitude for the common good which you serve, you may foster in this centenary of the Portuguese Republic a more just society and a better future for all. May the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, come down upon all of you.

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