Pope Francis on November 2, 2017 –the Feast of All Souls — visited the American Cemetery of Nettuno and the site of the Ardeatine Massacre.
He celebrated Mass at the site where 7,860 US soldiers are buried, arranged in soft arcs in wide green meadows under rows of Roman pines. The majority of these individuals died in the liberation of Sicily (from July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno area (September 9, 1943) and in the intense fighting to the north; in the landings on Anzio beach and the expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944); and in air and naval support in the regions.
Here is the Holy Father’s Homily, provided by the Vatican
All of us, today, are gathered here in hope. Each one of us, in his own heart, can repeat Job’s words, which we heard in the First Reading: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last He will stand upon the earth.” The hope of meeting God again, of meeting all of us as brothers: and this hope doesn’t disappoint. Paul was strong in that expression of the Second Letter: “Hope does not disappoint.” However, hope is often born and puts its roots in so many human wounds, in so many human sorrows and that moment of sorrow, of soreness, of suffering makes us look at Heaven and say: “I believe that my Redeemer is alive, but stop, Lord.” And this is, perhaps, the prayer that issues from all of us, when we look at this cemetery. “I’m sure, Lord, that these brothers of ours are with You.
“I’m sure,” we say this, “but, please, Lord, stop. No more, no more war, no more of this futile slaughter,” as Benedict XV said. It’s better to hope without this destruction: youths…thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands, upon thousand of broken hopes. “No more, Lord.” And we must say this today, who pray for all the deceased, but in this place we pray in a special way for these boys — today when the world is again at war and is preparing to go more strongly to war. “No more, Lord, no more.” Everything is lost with war.
There comes to mind that elderly lady that, looking at the ruins of Hiroshima, with wise resignation but much sorrow, with that lamenting resignation that women are able to live, because it’s their charism, said: “Men do everything to declare and make war and, in the end, they destroy themselves.” This is war: the destruction of ourselves. No doubt that woman, that elderly lady, had lost sons and grandsons there. She only had the soreness in her heart and tears. And if today is a day of hope, today is also a day of tears. Tears like those that women felt and had when the news arrived:
“You, Mrs, have the honor that your husband was a hero of the Homeland; that your sons are heroes of the Homeland.” They are tears that today humanity must not forget. This pride of humanity that has not learnt the lesson and seems not to want to learn it!
When so many times in history men think of starting a war, they are convinced they are bringing a new world; they are convinced of bringing a “spring,” and it ends in a bad, cruel winter with the reign of terror and death. Today we pray for all the deceased, all, but in a special way for these youths, at a time in which so many die in battles every day in this piecemeal war. We pray also for today’s dead, the war dead, also innocent children. This is the fruit of war: death. And may the Lord give us the grace to weep.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]