POPE MEETS IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER – Pope Francis met Monday with Fuad Hussein, foreign affairs minister of Iraq, according to Matteo Bruni, Holy See Press Office director. Responding to questions from journalists, Bruni said Pope Francis recalled with gratitude the welcome he received during his recent March 5 to 8 journey to Iraq. Vaticannews reported that, in the nearly half hour meeting, the Pope also “addressed an affectionate greeting to Iraq and to all its people, reiterating his hope that all people may ‘grow in solidarity and in the ability to acknowledge themselves as responsible for the vulnerabilities of others’.” He was the first-ever Pope to visit the Middle Eastern nation. (Vatican photo)

PAPAL MESSAGE TO PORTUGUESE ALTAR SERVERS – Pope Francis sent a message for the 25th National Pilgrimage of the altar servers of Portugal, urging them to “put the enthusiasm of their age into the encounter of Jesus” and to “be original” as they bring forth the gifts and the unique personal talents the Lord has given them. “Offer your hands, thoughts and time to Jesus,” the Pope wrote in his message. “Our Lady will be happy to see the altar servers around her and that she will whisper to them in the same manner as she did the servants at the first miracle of Jesus at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you. ..Here is the first thing Jesus says to each one of you: be holy.” The pilgrimage took place on May 1 at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

FRANCIS CONFIRMS VOTE TO CANONIZE 7 BLESSEDS – Pope Francis presided at an Ordinary Public Consistory for the Canonization of Blesseds on Monday morning. He confirmed the vote of the Cardinals to proceed with the canonization of seven Blesseds, who will be raised to the altars in the coming weeks and months, according to a schedule to be set at a later time. Once canonized, the holy men and women will be recognised as Saints throughout the universal Church. One martyr is numbered among them, an Indian who, Blessed Lazarus, the first lay person from India to be canonized. For his story and that of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, click here: Pope: Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, six others to be named saints – Vatican News

VATICAN MUSEUMS REOPEN TO PUBLIC AFTER 3RD CLOSURE – The celebrated Museums opened today with many health protocols in place, including thermal scanners, online booking only and managing the flow of visitors to avoid crowding. Vatican news reports that the 7-kilometer-long museums of galleries, halls and corridors are ventilated with windows open to courtyards and garden, and quotes museum director Barbara Jatta: “And so really, the security of our visitors is for sure one of our goals.” The year 2021 marks the 700 anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri and the Museums will honor the celebrated Italian poet in a special feature. For the full story on the re-opening and the work that the Vatican Museums did during the close down: Vatican Museums reopen to public after 3rd closure – Vatican News    photo by vatican media