Pope Francisco Sad. Photo: Vatican Media

Francis: The Pope Who Wept before the Virgin (and Before the Eyes of All)

What do the tears of a Pope say to us and why did they move us so much? Perhaps because the Holy Father has reflected, and without a script, something so close to the experience of many of us.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 09.12.2022).- To see a Pope weep doesn’t happen every day. And yet, it’s something that does happen. It happens because it’s human to weep and because the Popes, no matter how much they are the Vicars of the Second Person of the Trinity, are human and, hence, susceptible to tears. However, it’s true that it’s not usual to see one weep. And, for the second time in almost ten years of Pontificate, we have seen Pope Francis weep. 

It happened the first time in the context of the Synod on young people. The Pope was moved when stressing the unheard of presence of two Bishops of Continental China. On that occasion the tears of the Bishop of Rome virtually passed unperceived: perhaps because of the place, perhaps because of the people he had before him (in the majority ecclesiastics), or perhaps also because of the quantity of people among whom the tears were less commented. However, on this occasion it wasn’t so. 

The Holy Father was in Piazza di Spagna, near the center of the country’s capital. He was there to offer the traditional floral tribute that Pontiffs offer the image of the Immaculate Conception on the day of that Marian Solemnity. Hundreds of people gathered around the Square: some to accompany the Bishop of their city in prayer (let’s not forget that the Pope is the Bishop of Rome), and others as fortunate tourists whose stay in that part of the capital coincided with the arrival and stay of the Pontiff. Perhaps the Pope’s heart was moved and conditioned by his unusual visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major before going to the Square. In the Basilica he prayed to Our Lady “Salus Populi Romani,” Marian advocacy much loved by the Pope. What did the Holy Father say to the Virgin while there? We don’t know, but what we do know is what he said publicly later to Mary in Piazza di Spagna, to the point of being moved to tears:

“Immaculate Virgin, I would have liked to bring you today

The gratitude of the Ukrainian people

For the peace we have been asking the Lord for such a long time.

Instead of that, I still have to bring you the supplication

Of the children, of the elderly, of the fathers and mothers, of the young people

Of that tormented land that suffers so much.”

What do the Pope’s tears say to us and why do they move us so much? Perhaps because the Pope has reflected, and without a script, something so close to the experience of many of us: that so many times the most profound prayer is not so much what is said with words but what is said with tears, with those tears that make way for silence, by taking the Lord’s hands or those of His Mother. And boy if in human life do people of faith know much about that.

On December 8, before the astonished eyes of all, we saw a powerful Pope, because boy do the tears that are born of faith have a persuasive power in God’s eyes. 

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter: https://twitter.com/web_pastor, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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