Earlier this morning, Pope Francis celebrated a private Mass at the residence of the Archbishop Emeritus of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father presented two decorative honors that were conferred onto him by Bolivian president Evo Morales, to a statue of the Our Lady of Copacabana, patroness of Bolivia.
The gifts, the Press Office stated, were presented by the Pope to the Blessed Mother “so that on looking at them she will take care of this beloved people with great maternal tenderness and protect them with Him.”
Before placing the two honors on the statue, the Pope expressed his gratitude to the Bolivian people and their president, as well as explaining why he chose to leave them with Our Lady of Copacabana.
“May she always remember her people and also that from Bolivia, from her Shrine, where I would like them to be, may she remember the Successor of Peter and the whole Church, and look after her from Bolivia,” he said.
The following is a ZENIT translation of the Holy Father’s prayer to the Blessed Mother:
Mother of the Savior and our Mother, You, Queen of Bolivia, who from the height of your Shrine in Copacabana attend to the prayers and needs of your children, especially the most poor and abandoned, and protect them:
Receive as a gift from the heart of Bolivia and my filial affection the symbols of affection and closeness that – in the name of the Bolivian people – Mr. President Evo Morales Ayma has bestowed on me with cordial and generous affection, on the occasion of this Apostolic Journey, which I entrusted to your solicitous intercession.
I beg that these honors, which I leave here in Bolivia at your feet, and which recall the nobility of the flight of the Condor in the skies of the Andes and the commemorated sacrifice of Father Luis Espinal, S.J., may be emblems of the everlasting love and persevering gratitude of the Bolivian people for your solicitous and intense tenderness.
At this moment, Mother, I place in your heart my prayers for all the many petitions of your children, which I have received in these days: I beg you to hear them; give them your encouragement and protection, and manifest to the whole of Bolivia your tenderness as woman and Mother of God, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.