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Conferral of honorary citizenship

· Benedict XVI receives honour from Romano Canavese, birthplace of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone ·

On Wednesday, 17 March, after the General Audience, honorary citizenship of the Italian city of Romano Canavese was conferred on the Holy Father in the Little Paul VI Hall. Among those present were Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea, and Mr Oscar Ferrero, Mayor of Romano Canavese, with the municipal councillors. The following is a translation of the Pope's Address, which was given in Italian.

Dear Cardinal,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

Mr Mayor and the Municipal Councillors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very glad to receive honorary citizenship of the Municipality of Romano Canavese, to which I am bound by ties of affection. First of all because it is the birthplace of my beloved Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, whom I have known and esteemed for so many years, especially since the time when I was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I would like to renew to him my heartfelt gratitude for his precious service to the Holy See.

Then, because I myself had the joy of visiting your town and of meeting the hardworking people of Canavese last year, on 19 July. I address my cordial greeting to each one of you and especially to Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea, and to Mr Oscar Ferrero, the Mayor, thank you for your words, thank you for your thoughts and for your prayers.

The conferral of honorary citizenship testifies to the esteem, closeness and affection you have for me; with this gesture, in a certain sense, you have wished to welcome me into the great family of Romano Canavese; although my presence cannot be physical, it will certainly be cordial and paternal.

I shall feel in a certain way part of your glorious history whose roots go back to the second century before the birth of Christ and which has had moments of particular importance, especially in the late Middle Ages and in the 19th century.

However, what characterizes Romano Canavese above all is its long history of faith that begins with the blood of martyrs, including San Solutore, and continues on to our day.

On this occasion I renew to you my invitation to preserve and to cultivate the genuine values of your tradition and your culture, which are rooted in the Gospel, and to witness with ever new commitment to faith in the Crucified and Risen Lord, to attachment to the family and to the spirit of solidarity. May you always trust in the help of God who never abandons his children and is close with his loving care to all who do their utmost for good, peace and justice.

Dear friends, as I renew to you my sentiments of gratitude, I invoke upon each one of you, upon your families and upon all the citizens the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Holy Patrons, so that they may continue to protect and guide your Community. With affection I impart to each one of you and to your fellow citizens, my fellow citizens now, a special Apostolic Blessing.

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