The only liturgical celebration in Bolivia was held on Thursday morning, 9 July, when the Pope celebrated Mass in the Christ the Redeemer Square in Santa Cruz for the opening of the 5th National Eucharistic Congress. In the large open space dominated by the column on which stands an imposing statue of Jesus with arms raised to heaven, Francis boarded the popemobile which struggled to drive due to the crowd. More than 2 million people followed on the 40 large screens placed along the avenues which flow towards the square where the altar was located. Francisco de los pobres is a expression often found here. Among those present, the Pope recognized two old acquaintance: a sister, whom he greeted with affection; and then one of the concelebrating priests.
During the votive Mass for the Most Holy Eucharist, in the presence of President Morales and several ecumenical delegates, there were many elements in the liturgy which recalled local cultures. The stage, beautiful in its simplicity, was made according to the style of Jesuit missions in Chiquitania, inhabited by seven peoples who have names of Catholic saints.
The Pontiff used a staff made from the wood of the local plant soto, on which was carved an angel, Our Lady Undoer of Knots and Christ the Good Shepherd.
The theme of vocation returned that afternoon when, at the Coliseum of Don Bosco College, the Pope met with priests, religious and seminarians of the region of Santa Cruz. In the gym of the school run by the Salesians, Francis listened to the testimonies of a priest, nun and young seminarian, also responding to their questions, adding many of his personal considerations to his prepared address.
Gianluca Biccini on assignment in Bolivia
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 16, 2019
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