This afternoon Pope Francis visited the Mausoleum of the Fosse Ardeatine in Rome, which houses the tombs of 335 martyrs, who died in the massacre ordered by Hitler in 1944.
On his arrival, the Holy Father was received by the Directress of the Mausoleum, and by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni. The Pope also greeted some members of the National Association of Italian Families Martyrs Fallen for Patriotism (ANFIM), the persons present there and relatives of the victims of the massacre.
The Pontiff entered the caves and stayed a moment, praying before the place in which Italian soldiers died, and then he visited the tombs, placing white roses on some of them and praying in silence.
Then the Holy Father recited a prayer together with the head of the Jewish community. After hearing the prayer of the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Francis prayed:
“God of Abraham, of Isaac, God of Jacob, You introduced yourself to Moses with this name when You revealed to him your will to deliver your People from slavery in Egypt — God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob, God <of> a close covenant with man. God who unites Himself with a pact of faithful love forever, merciful and compassionate with every man and every people that suffers oppression. “I have seen the oppression of my People, and I have heard the cries of pain.” God of faces and of names, God of each one of the 335 men who died here, on March 24, 1944, whose remains rest in these tombs. You, Lord, know their faces and their names: all, including the twelve that remained unknown to us. No one is unknown to you. God of Jesus, Our Father who art in Heaven: thanks to him, the resurrected Crucified, we know that your Name – God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob – means that You are not the God of the dead, but of the living, that your faithful covenant of love is stronger than death and is guarantee of resurrection. Make us, oh Lord, in this place consecrated to the memory of those who died for freedom and justice, remove our sandals of egoism and indifference, and through the burning bush of this Mausoleum hear Your Name in silence: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of Jesus, God of the living. Amen.”
The Mausoleum of the Fosse Ardeatine was created for the perpetual memory of the cruel massacre perpetrated by the Nazis in Rome on March 24, 1944, in the pits of Ardeatina Street. It was inaugurated solemnly in 1949, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the massacre. It encompasses in one complex the caves, where the wounded died, the Mausoleum, and the sculptural group, which expresses explicitly the tragedy of the 335 martyrs.
Before leaving the area, the Holy Father wrote in the Book of Honor of the Mausoleum of the Fosse Ardeatine: “These are the fruits of war: hatred, death, vengeance . . . Forgive us, Lord.
At the end of his visit, the Pontiff returned to the Vatican, where he went to the grotto of the Vatican Basilica for a moment of private prayer, in suffrage for the Supreme Pontiffs buried there and for all the dead.