Pope Francis travelled Wednesday evening to the Roman cemetery of Prima Porta, where he offered Mass for All Souls’ Day. Arriving at the cemetery, Pope Francis visited a mausoleum and laid flowers at several tombs, while praying silently.
The Flaminio Cemetery in Prima Porta, where Pope Francis said the All Souls’ Day Mass, is the largest cemetery in Rome. Following the ceremony, on his return to the Vatican, Pope Francis visited St Peter’s Basilica for a private prayer for his deceased predecessors in the Petrine office.
According to Vatican Radio, he prayed in the Vatican Grottos on Wednesday evening, which are located under St. Peter’s Basilica. The grottos contain tombs of kings, queens and popes, dating from the 10th century.
Pope Francis prayed privately at the tombs of his 20th century predecessors: Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, Blessed Paul VI, John Paul I.
In his homily for the Mass at the cemetery, which he delivered off the cuff, the Holy Father reflected on the words of Job:
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s homily:
Job was in darkness. He was in fact at death’s door. And, at that moment of anguish, of grief and of suffering, Job proclaimed the hope: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last He will stand upon the earth … and I shall see God … and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25.27). The Commemoration of the deceased has this twofold sense. A sense of sadness: a cemetery is sad, it reminds us of our dear ones who have gone, it reminds us also of the future, death, but in this sadness, we carry flowers, as a sign of hope, I can even say of celebration, but further on, not now. And the sadness is mixed with hope. And this is what all of us feel today in this celebration: the memory of our dear ones, before their mortal remains, and hope.
But we also feel that this hope helps us, because we too must tread this path. All of us will tread this path sooner or later, all of us will, with grief, with more or less grief, but all of us, but with the flower of hope, with that strong thread that is anchored in the beyond. See, the hope of resurrection does not deceive.
And the one who first tread this path was Jesus. We go on the path that he did. And the one who opened the door for us is He Himself, is Jesus: with His cross He opened for us the door of hope; He opened the door <for us> to enter where we will contemplate God. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last He will stand upon the earth … and I shall see God … and my eyes shall behold and not another.”
We return home today with this twofold memory: the memory of the past, of our dear ones that have gone, and the memory of the future, of the path we shall tread – with the certainty, the security; that certainty that issued from the lips of Jesus: “I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40)
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]