The image of St. Annibale Maria di Francia (1851-1927) was unveiled in one of the exterior niches of St. Peter’s Basilica. He is the founder of the Rogationist Fathers, the Daughters of Divine Zeal, and the Anthonian Orphanages.
Before blessing the statue, the Pope recited a prayer that evoked the vocational apostolate, and care of orphans and the poor, essential features of the spirituality and activity of the Sicilian priest.
In particular, the Holy Father invoked the Lord so that he will send to his harvest “worthy laborers of the Gospel,” and so that the image of the saint, canonized in 2004, will inspire in those who contemplate it “his same spirit of charity to grow in love of God and neighbor.”
The statue shows the saint pointing to the Gospel verse that inspired his work: “Rogate ergo dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem suam” (so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest) (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2).