Last weekend’s celebration of the World Day of the Family was a celebration with Pope Francis. The Holy Father arrived to St Peter’s Square accompanied by many little ones. Next to the altar was an icon of the Holy Family.
Federica, who was about 10, said to the Pope: I love you very much, and she showed him a drawing, told him that her mother has taught her to cook some things and to pray for others. Hundreds of balloons were released in the air and flew up as the choirs intoned their songs and the faithful waved their arms.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, called him “Pope, Francis, or better Daddy Francis,” and said that the parents, grandparents and children present in the Square reminded him of Zachariah’s dream and the joy of the faith, which we celebrate together “with the presence of families of more than 75 countries.” He also mentioned families in difficulty, such as those of Syria, tested by war, and to whom the Square sent their applause in support. Taking part in the festive celebration for a few minutes were circus acrobats and street artists who enlivened the celebration with some demonstrations.
A mother spoke about the great adventure that a family is, and several young couples mentioned the date on which they will get married and the difficulties they will have to face, such as a Roman couple that confided that despite having no sure work and not knowing how they will pay the rent, they have decided to get married in the spring.
There was also the testimony of grandparents who came from Spain to Rome with their whole family. In the midst of all this, the Holy Father blessed the child of a pregnant mother.
The testimony of a Syrian woman was heard, who talked about the tragedy and fear that drove
Families on mission were present; the letter of an Italian family from Florence was read, on mission in a Muslim land, and of another family, with a daughter, of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, who are now in Albania and who left their work and life in Italy to serve the Church there.
There were two grandfathers, film directors of different convictions who wanted to present their testimony to Pope Francis. They were Pablo and Victorio Taviani, who suffered the barbarism of Nazi-Fascism in World War II, about which they made a film, as well as another on the genocide of the Armenian people.
There was also the testimony of a family, including in-laws, who took in the other grandmother, despite the fact their home is small and the difficulties that their decision entailed.
A young family of fishermen of Lampedusa talked about how they were called to help the desperate who were disembarking, with terrible stories, including that of an agrarian engineer of Nigeria who escaped from Africa and saw 25 immigrants die in the stowage of a boat, among whom was a cousin of his, before arriving at the Italian Island.
Toward the end of the event, the Pope addressed his words to the public, which interrupted him several times with applause. At the conclusion, the Holy Father gave his blessing and said: “We cannot leave without asking the Virgin to protect us all,” and he prayed a Hail Mary.
Then Pope Francis greeted several persons and for more than half an hour went around the Square and the via della Conciliazione, from where many people followed the ceremony on gigantic screens.