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Regina Coeli: On Being Witnesses to the Risen Christ

“The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts.”

Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the biblical readings of today’s liturgy, the word “witness” resounds twice. The first time is on the lips of Peter: he, after the healing of the paralytic at the door of the temple of Jerusalem, exclaims: “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15). The second time is on the lips of Jesus Risen: He, on the evening of Passover opens the minds of the disciples to the mystery of His death and resurrection and says to them: “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk. 24:48). The Apostles, who saw with their own eyes the Risen Christ, could not keep silent about their extraordinary experience. He had revealed himself to them so that the truth of his resurrection could reach everyone through their witness. And the Church has the duty to prolong this mission, every baptized person is called to give witness, with their words and with their lives, that Jesus is risen, that He is alive and present among us. We all are called to give witness that Jesus is alive! We can ask ourselves: who is the witness? The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts. To see, to remember and to tell are the three verbs that describes the identity and mission.

The witness is one who has seen with objective eyes, he has seen a reality, but not with indifferent eyes; he has seen and involves himself in the event. That is why he remembers, not only because he knows how to precisely reconstruct the events, but also because those facts have spoken and he has grasped their profound meaning. Then the witness recounts, not in a cold and detached way, but as one who has questioned himself, and from that the day has changed his life. The witness is someone has changed his life. The content of a Christian witness is not a theory, an ideology or a complex system of precepts and prohibitions, or even a moralism. But rather a message of salvation, a concrete event, indeed a Person: it is Christ Risen, living and sole Savior of all. He can be witnessed by those who have had a personal experience of Him, in prayer and in the Church, through a path that has its foundation in Baptism, its nourishment in the Eucharist, its seal in Confirmation, its continuing conversion in Penance. Thanks to this path, always guided by the Word of God, every Christian can become a witness of Jesus risen. And his witness is all the more credible the more it is evident by a way of living that is evangelical, joyful, courageous, meek, peaceful, merciful.  Instead, if the Christian lets himself be taken by comfort, by vanity, by selfishness, he becomes deaf and blind to the question of the “resurrection” of so many brothers. How can he communicate the living Jesus, how can he communicate the liberating power of Jesus Christ, his infinite tenderness? May Mary, our Mother, sustain us through Her intercession, so that we can become, with our limitations, but with the grace of faith, witnesses of the Risen Lord, bringing to the people who we find the Easter gifts of joy and peace.

Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, the Holy Father said the following:

Dear brothers and sisters,

In these hours, news is coming in concerning a new tragedy in the waters of the Mediterranean. A boat carrying migrants has capsized last night roughly 60 miles off the Libyan coast and it is feared that there are hundreds of victims. I express my deepest sorrow in the face of such a tragedy and I assure for those lost and their families my remembrance in prayer. I address a heartfelt appeal so that the international community acts decisively and promptly, to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. They were men and women like us! Our brothers and sisters who are looking for a better life. Hungry, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war, they were looking for a better life. They were looking for happiness. I invite you to pray in silence first, and then all together for these brothers and sisters.

Moment of silence

Hail Mary…

I give a cordial greeting to all of you, who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world: to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Santo André, in Brasil; to those from Berlin, Munich and Cologne; to the students of Grafton (Australia), and from Sant Feliu of Llobregat (Spain). I greet the Polish people from the diocese of Rzeszów and I am close to the participants of the “March for the Sanctity of Life” taking place in Warsaw, encouraging them to always defend and promote human life. I greet the Catholic Actions of Formia; the faithful of Milan, Lodi, Limbiate and Torre Boldone (Bergamo); the youth of Turin, Senigallia, Almenno San Sanlvatore, Villafontana and Gràssina; the youth of Noventa Vicentina and Catania; the Trecate Choir and the members of the Lions Club. I give a special greeting to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, on the occasion of today’s National Day of support for this great university. It is important that they can continue to train young people to a culture that combines faith and science, ethics and professionalism.

Today begins in Turin that solemn exposition of the Holy Shroud. I too, God-willing, will go to venerate it on June 21st. I hope that this act of veneration helps us all to find in Jesus Christ the Merciful Face of God, and to recognize it in the face of our brothers and sisters, particularly those suffering most.

Please, do not forget to pray for me. I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch!

[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]

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