After the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis commemorated World Mission Day in his address to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The mission of the Church, he said, is “to spread throughout the world the flame of faith that Jesus ignited in the world.”
“The method of the Christian mission is not proselytism, but that the sharing of the flame that heats up the soul,” the Pope said. Expressing his gratitude to the missionaries around the world, Pope Francis also remembered those who have given their lives for the Gospel.
The Holy Father remembered Afra Martinelli, a lay missionary from Italy who was killed in September during a robbery in Nigeria. “Everyone wept, Christians and Muslims,” the Holy Father said of Martinelli. “They really loved her! She announced the Gospel with her life, with the works she accomplished, a center of instruction; in this way she spread the flame of faith, she fought the good fight. Let us think about this our sister, and greet her with applause, all of us!”
Pope Francis also recalled the life of István Sándor, a lay Salesian who was beatified on Saturday in Budapest. Blessed István was killed during the Communist rule of Hungary. “When the Communist regime closed all the Catholic churches,” the Pope said, “he confronted the persecutions with courage, and was killed when he was 39 years old. Let us unite ourselves with the Salesian family and the Hungarian Church in giving thanks.”