On Sunday morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae with a group of about 80 people led by the Italian military ordinary Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi, who also concelebrated with the Pope.
The group consisted of relatives of Italian soldiers who died in peace keeping missions over the past 5 years, particularly in Afghanistan. Also present were soldiers who were wounded on those missions, along with their family members who joined the Pope in praying for those who died or were wounded for the sake of peace.
According to a communique released by the Holy See, the day chosen for this Mass with the Holy Father falls on Republic Day where Italy “expresses in different ways a debt of love to the military family,” as Archbishop Pelvi mentioned in his brief greeting of the Holy Father at the beginning of the celebration.
At the end of the Mass the “Prayer for Italy,” composed by Bl. John Paul II (March 15, 1994), was recited. Pope Francis, as is customary, greeted individually those who were present at the Mass.
The ecclesial community of the military ordinariate offered the Pope a beautiful work from Naples in terracotta that represents St. Joseph the worker showing carpenter tools to the child Jesus, who is holding a chest containing the objects that symbolize the crucifixion: nails, hammer, tongs.