A wreath of white and yellow flowers thrown into the water from a patrol boat in front of the “Gateway to Europe”, a memorial to migrants who have drowned while crossing the Mediterranean; an embrace, at Punta Favarolo, for survivors who have been welcomed on the island; and that powerful homily against the globalization of indifference, delivered from an altar made out scraps from shipwrecks. These are the indelible images of Pope Francis’ visit to Lampedusa on 8 July 2013, a short time after his election. Exactly 10 years since the Holy Father’s first Apostolic Journey, during which he was deeply moved by the sinking of a dinghy from Africa in the Sicilian channel, a series of events commemorated the historic visit. The events began on Friday, 7 July, in the parish church of Saint Gerlando in Lampedusa, on the theme “Who among us did not cry? — The sea a place of life” and concluded on Sunday, 8 July, with Holy Mass celebrated by Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop emeritus of Agrigento (Sicily). The events were organized by the Apostolate of the Sea of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, together with the Migrantes Foundation and the Archdiocese of Agrigento.
A key moment was the commemorative procession from the Church of San Gerlando to the “Gateway to Europe” monument, where Cardinal Montenegro offered a reflection. Pope Francis’ letter for the occasion was also read aloud.