First of all I would like to thank the bishop of Albano, the mayor of Castel Gandolfo and the director of the Pontifical Residence for their cordial welcome, which interprets the sentiments of all of you and all the citizens. I thank each and every one of you for this welcome!
I have come here for the day to meet with the citizens of Castel Gandolfo, with the pilgrims and all of the visitors, who rightly love this place, they are enchanted by its beauty, they find occasion for rest here... But I have also come to express to you, who work in the Pontifical Residence, my gratitude for your precious work. And with you I greet and thank your families, which in some way participate in your service to the Holy See. May the Lord assist you always, assist your work and your family life; may he fill you with his grace and accompany you in his paternal love.
The presence of the bishop of Albano, Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, offers me the opportunity to covey and affectionate thought to the parish community of Castel Gandolfo; and also to the religious communities that live in this area. I think of the whole Diocese of Albano, and I exhort its members to the renew with joy their commitment to the proclamation and witness of the Gospel.
I address a sincere thanks to you, Mrs. Milvia Monachesi, mayor of this city, and the entire municipal administration, for work on behalf of the community. I ask you to convey my cordial greeting and the assurance of a remembrance in my prayers to the entire population, whom I encourage to be a sign of hope and peace, always attentive to persons and to families who are most in difficulty. This is important! We must always be a sign of hope and peace in this moment. Open the doors to hope, so that hope goes forward, and spread peace, always!
In this moment my thoughts turn to Bl. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who loved to spend the summer here in this pontifical residence. Many of you were able to meet them and welcome them, treasuring a dear memory. May their witness always be an encouragement to you in fidelity to Christ and in the continual effort to conduct a life consistent with the demands of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.
Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary – whom we will honor as Virgin of Mount Carmel in two days – that you might be able to carry out your duties in a profitable and serene manner. May Our Lady always watch over you and your families! Pray for me too – I need it – and for my service. I renew to all of you and I bless you from my heart. Thank you!
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]