A bona fide homecoming. A trip to the childhood stomping grounds of parents and ancestors. Stopping at the symbolic holy places of the city of Turin, such as the cathedral which houses the Shroud, the Basilica of the Consolata which holds the miraculous image of the Madonna, the Valdocco area, where the body of Don Bosco is preserved, and the Church of Cottolengo, which memorializes St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, the saint of charity and providence.
The itinerary for Pope Francis’ pastoral visit on Sunday and Monday, 21-22 June, is the same one that Jorge Mario Bergoglio followed each time he returned to Italy, before he was elected Pope. Thus, there was particular significance attached to the Pontiff’s visit to the Church of St Teresa, where his father was baptized and his grandparents were married. And with this year being the year of the Synod on the Family, the stop took on an even deeper meaning.
The Pontiff himself called it a homecoming, one which was characterized by a welcome that far exceeded expectations. “Every meeting was very important”, he said on Monday morning as he left the Waldensian Temple. They included encounters “with the world of labour, the Salesian family, young people, the Cottolengo community. Meetings which took on particular value in the context of the great moment of silent prayer before the Shroud and that of Monday morning’s meeting with Waldensian brothers and sisters”.
This return to roots could not have foreseen the meeting with about 30 relatives: six cousins and their families. Francis greeted each of them one by one, celebrated Mass for them and joined several of them for lunch.
Monday morning had begun in a sign of ecumenism, with a visit to the Waldensian Temple in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. It was a highly significant and fraternal gesture, which brought down another little piece of the wall which often blocks the path toward unity. For the true path is travelled when communion is reached between Christians, as the Pope assured them in his address.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 18, 2018
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