Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and the day on which the Church traditionally celebrates the World Day of Consecrated Life. His homily for Mass appears below.

To mark this day, Pope Francis tweeted: Consecrated life is a great gift of God: a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to His People.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Thursday afternoon celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the feast of the Presentation of the Child jesus in the Temple and the World Day for Consecrated Life in the presence of members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life.

The World Day for Consecrated Life, now in its 21st edition, was established in 1997 by Pope Saint John Paul II. This day is also known as “Candlemas” due to the blessing of candles and the procession that takes place at the beginning of the Mass. The candles symbolize both Christ, the Light of the World, and the lives of consecrated women and men who are called to reflect the light of Christ for all peoples.


In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the “hymn of hope” pronounced by Simeon and Anna when they saw the Savior appearing in the Temple. We, too, the Pope said, “have inherited this hymn of hope from our elders… We would do well to take up the dreams of our elders, so that we can prophesy in our day, and once more encounter what originally set our hearts on fire.”

But he also warned of a “temptation” that can make the consecrated life barren: the temptation of “survival,” which urges us to protect ourselves at the expense of our dreams. “The temptation of survival makes us forget grace.”

The Holy Father reminded consecrated women and men, that they are called to put themselves “with Jesus in the midst of His people.”


Pope Francis concluded his homily with the exhortation: “Let us accompany Jesus as He goes forth to meet His people, to be in the midst of His people.”

This year’s celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life has a particular significance, being devoted to thanksgiving and prayer for the give of vocations, especially in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the theme: “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” The Synod is expected to meet in October 2018.

For the complete papal homily, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/homily-for-feast-of-the-presentation-of-the-lord-f


Pope Francis’ prayer intention for February is COMFORT FOR THE AFFLICTED: That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.

The Apostleship of Prayer produced the Pope’s video on this prayer intention. The text of his remarks follows:

Welcome the Needy

We live in cities that throw up skyscrapers and shopping centers and strike big real estate deals … but they abandon a part of themselves to marginal settlements on the periphery.

The result of this situation is that great sections of the population are excluded and marginalized: without a job, without options, without a way out.

Don’t abandon them. Pray with me for all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.


The Vatican has anounced that its supermarket, known by shoppers as l’annona, is supporting those affected by the earthquakes in central Italy by offering goods for sale made by local farmers in the region, especially the small town of Amatrice, which was hit hardest by the quake on August 24, 2016.

Special ID passes with the individual’s name and photo are given to Vatican and Roman Curia employees, retirees, and others associated with the Vatican to shop here.

The brief anouncement noted that immediately after the earthquake, in which nearly 300 people died, Pope Francis sent members of the Vatican fire department to aid in rescue efforts. Medical personnel working at the Vatican also volunteered to help.


Papal tweet on January 5: May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other.


Pope Francis met on Thursday with hundreds of Italians from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes over the past six months. The central Italian town of Amatrice and surrounding areas were hit by a 6.3 magnitude quake in August which killed nearly 300 people. Other powerful quakes caused major damage in the same region on October 26th and 30th, with the latest tremors reported in Spoleto last Monday, January 2nd.


Around 800 people, led by their Bishop Renato Boccardo and local civic authorities, travelled to Rome for the audience in the Paul VI hall. Many of them had lost their houses, livelihoods and friends or family members in the largest earthquakes which reduced parts of many towns and villages to piles of rubble.

Regional reconstruction: Pope Francis sat and listened as a survivor and a local parish priest described the immense suffering of people, now seeking to rebuild their shattered communities. In his off-the-cuff response, the Pope said the worst thing to do in such circumstances was to offer a prepared sermon, but instead he reflected on the work of physical, mental and spiritual reconstruction that has been taking place throughout the region.

Healing hands: Pope Francis spoke of the wounds which have affected those who’ve lost their loved ones and the importance of crying together as they seek to heal the pain. He spoke too of the healing hands of doctors, nurses, firemen and all those who worked together to pull survivors from the rubble or offer help to those most in need.

Sharing and solidarity: Finally the Pope spoke of the spirit of solidarity and nearness which is vital for the reconstruction process. While everyone affected by the earthquakes will continue to bear scars, he said it’s important to find the courage to dream again.  Sharing and remaining close together, he said, makes us more courageous and more human as we face this daunting task.

Amatrice visit: The Pope’s words come three months after he made a surprise visit to Amatrice and two neighbouring towns to meet with survivors and relatives of victims. During the visit, he said he had not come to make speeches, but simply to be close to those suffering and to pray with all those affected by the earthquakes. (Vatican Radio)




From the Benedictine Monks of Norcia –

Dear friends,

How can I even begin to describe the scene we witnessed yesterday in Norcia?

It was like those photographs of bombed-out churches from the Second World War. It reminded me of all those ruined monasteries one sees passing through the English countryside. It was an image of devastation. All the churches in Norcia are on the ground. Every single one. The roofs caved in on all of them; they are no more. What remains of them are a few corners, a facade, a window with the sun coming through from the wrong side. Inside are “bare ruin’d choirs” as Shakespeare wrote of the destroyed monasteries in his time.

The Church of the Madonna Addolorata in Norcia, crumbled to the ground. Notice the still-standing inscription above the door, which bears the words from the Book of Lamentations: Missit ignem in ossibus meis. (He hath sent fire into my bones.)



The wonder, the miracle, is that there were no casualties. All the fear and anxiety following the first few earthquakes now seem a providential part of God’s mysterious plan to clear the city of all inhabitants. He spent two months preparing us for the complete destruction of our patron’s church so that when it finally happened we would watch it, in horror but in safety, from atop the town.

The Basilica of San Benedict, Norcia.


Is it over yet? We do not know. These are mysteries which will take years — not days or months — to understand. We watch and pray all together on the mountainside for Norcia and for the world. The priests go into town to visit the sick and the homeless. We are grateful for your prayers, as ever.

In Christ,

Fr. Benedict




We turned our clocks back last night in Italy. As I write, it is 11:40am, Rome time. We await Pope Francis’ Angelus.

I felt this tremor very strongly as my bed was really moving and shaking. I was in bed and looked at my clock – it was 7:41 am –the shaking was stronger and lasted longer than the quake I experienced in late August so I knew it had to be worse at the epiocenter than it was in August.

There are many visitors in Rome, especially Italians, as it is a long “bridge” holiday weekend. November 1, Feast of All Saints, is a holiday in Italy and many people have also taken Monday off (the ponte or bridge), thus creating a four-day holiday weekend.

I took these photos while watching Italian TV: some are blurry as this was TV and people are running. You will see some nuns and some of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia and, in one picture, they are wearing stoles in the event they have to impart the sacraments, especially anointing the sick. You will also see a group praying in front of the destroyed basilica of St. Benedict








It has just been reported on Italian TV that the buildings in Amatrice that had resisted the August 2016 quake have now been destroyed. The partially destroyed city hall tower has its clock still showing the time of that August quake – 3:41 am.

From TV reports –

–          Epicenter of 6.5 quake was again in Umbria – occurred at 7:41 am

  • –         Basilica of St. Benedict destroyed in Norcia – dates from 1300s
  • –         Quake felt as far away as Austria
  • –         Is the strongest quake in Italy in more than 3 decades – was said to be 8 times stronger than the August quake in central Italy and lasted much longer
  • –         Subway closed in Rome
  • –         Elevator falls in Rome apartment building
  • –         St. Paul’s basilica in Rome closed as firemen examining structure
  • –         San Lorenzo basilica in Rome closed as firemen check minor
  • –         Hospital in Cascia (St. Rita) evacuated
  • –         Roman Forum, Colosseum, all being checked for possible damage
  • –           The Quirinale Place, home to Italy’s president (who is in Italy on a State visit), normally opens to visitors on Sundays but is closed today as engineers check it for structural damage.
  • –          Many roads into the quake-struck region have been closed due , as are gas lines, etc.to falling rocks from adjacent hills and mountains. Dams and other similar structures are being checked



Here is the latest letter from Fr. Benedict, subprior of the Monks of Norcia, a town struck once again by Wednesday’s earthquake in central Italy:

Dear friends, I am hesitant to implore you all again for prayers and support. In the midst of so much suffering, one cannot help but feel a kind of embarrassment to invite your attention to our situation so soon after the first series of earthquakes in August. Since then, we monks have been trying to determine God’s will for our lives and community. Perhaps, at least for us, this second quake is God yelling even louder His will for our lives. We pray for understanding.   Over the past 24 hours, a powerful series of earthquakes passed through Norcia, once again graciously sparing the lives of the monks and inhabitants to Norcia. Unfortunately, however, it has brought many of the townspeople to the brink of despair and more damage than any of us can yet assess. As before, we are busy at work trying to respond to the crisis on multiple levels. Therefore, my time is short to update all of you, even though you each have found so much time to support us through your prayers and donations.

The Basilica fared the worst. Entire walls of decorative plaster crashed to the floor and the dome has begun to cave in. The roof collapsed in two places, leaving the ancient Basilica exposed to all the elements. Most dramatically, perhaps, the Celtic Cross which adorned the 13th century facade came crashing down.


The 50% of the monastery which had been considered “habitable” after the August quakes has now been damaged far beyond what one might call safe livable conditions. At 10:30 PM last night, 5 of the town monks escaped to San Benedetto in Monte to join the 8 of us already here, where, after a common sip of Birra Nursia Extra, we camped out for a night of turbulence. After a few scant moments of sleep, we rose at 3:30 AM for Matins and started to accept once more that our life is not our own and God had altered our path once again, solidifying it here on the mountain top. Sadly, for the foreseeable future, this means it will no longer be possible for us to offer Mass in the crypt of the Basilica for the public. But, if God wills it, we will soon offer Mass here on the mountain.

In closing, and on a note of hope, I want to tell you about a special visitor we had this morning. In an act of both ecclesiastical solidarity and paternal support, and as the ground beneath us continued to tremble, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, became the first Bishop to offer Mass in the private chapel of our modest dwellings. The Bishop was in Norcia to participate in the fifth annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage. (photo from Summorum Pontificum)


Following the earthquake, the pilgrimage’s Norcia events were cancelled, and so the Bishop spent time with our community. He was able to join us for coffee and offered soothing words of support, which we in turn repeat and offer to all of those in the region affected by natural disaster: “God will bring good to you out of this suffering and this earthquake will become the cornerstone on which generations of monks will build their monastic life.”



On the October 4 feast of St. Francis (and the papal name day), with only a few people in the know, Pope Francis left the Vatican this morning for his promised visit to the towns severely struck by the August 24 earthquake in central Italy. I present a composite of various news agencies’ reports on the papal trip, along with several photos, including one by Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office:

On Tuesday Pope Francis made an unannounced private visit to the small Italian city of Amatrice to offer support to areas devastated by a massive earthquake in August, where he offered a message of comfort and hope “I let a bit of time pass, so that some things could be repaired such as the school, but from the first moment I felt that I had to come to you. Simply for nothing more than to pray. I pray for you,” the Pope said during his Oct. 4 visit.

He said that “closeness and prayer” were the offering he brought, and prayed that the Lord would bless those affected, and that the Virgin Mary would “comfort you in this moment of sadness, pain and trial.”

“Go forward, there is always a future, there are many loved ones who have left us. They have fallen here, let us pray to the Virgin for them. Let us do it together.”

The August 24 6.0-magnitude quake that hit central Italy left 298 dead.


Pope Francis on Tuesday tweeted, “I want to bring the consolation of the Lord Jesus, with the caress and embrace of the whole of the Church to those struck by the earthquake”.

A 3.6-magnitude quake hit the part of central Italy that was devastated by the deadly August 24 earthquake during Pope Francis’s visit to the area on Tuesday. The quake, which was clearly felt by local people, took place at 14:41, seven kilometres from the town of Norcia.

The pontiff travelled to the town for a private visit aboard a VW Golf car with tinted windows and visited the temporary school set up the civil protection to meet students and teachers. He met elementary and middle school pupils who gave him drawings as a present, sources said. The pope spoke with each one of them, listening to what they had to say and hugging them, according to the sources.

After the visit, the pope went to the red zone of Amatrice, the part of the town still sealed off to the public after the earthquake, and walked amid the ruins of Lungo Corso Umberto I street accompanied by firefighters. The devastated town is where 234 of the overall fatalities occurred, according to civil protection figures. Piles of rubble that have yet to be cleared away and half-destroyed buildings are still visible.

A picture provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis greets  firemen as he arrives to meets people survived at earthquake in Amatrice, Italy, 04 October 2016. A devastating 6.0 magnitude earthquake early morning of 24 August left a total of 293 dead, according to official sources. ANSA/OSSERVATORE ROMANO EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The Vatican said the pope arrived in Amatrice Tuesday morning, accompanied by the bishop of Rieti, and started his tour at the school. He then planned to visit the hardest-hit area of the town, which remains largely closed due to security concerns.

Francis had made clear his intentions to visit the quake-stricken zone but without announcing a date. He indicated that he wanted to go alone “to be close to the people.”

The Pope later went to the “San Raffaele Borona” assisted living home in Rieti, where he greeted 60 patients – most of whom are elderly who lost their homes in the earthquake – one by one, and ate lunch with them.

Pope Francis said Tuesday on the second stage of his visit to the central Italian earthquake zone that he was “with” the people of Arquata del Tronto. “I’m with you,” he said. “Times will change, and you will be able to go on”.

The pope visited a hamlet in Arquata, Pescara del Tronto, which was flattened in the August 24 quake killing 48 of the 51 victims in the Marche region. He spent a few minutes in silent prayer.

Pope Francis on Tuesday also visited San Pellegrino di Norcia, one of the places most severely struck in the Umbria region. He met local people in the village square together with the bishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Renato Boccardo. A tent camp at San Pellegrino was recently taken down. The 6.0-magnitude quake killed almost 300 people in Lazio and Marche and caused severe damage in the neighboring regions of Umbria and Abruzzo.


After stopping for almost two hours with the elderly in Borbona, the Pope made a brief stop at the Command Post of the Fire Brigade in Cittareale – base camp for the earthquake zone.  He then traveled to Accumoli, one of the cities most affected, where he greeted several people including the mayor, in Piazza San Francesco and he prayed in front of the Church of San Francesco destroyed by the earthquake.

From there he traveled to Pescara del Tronto, stopping three times along the way to greet which has the task three stops along the way to greet small groups of people. Shortly before 14:00, the Holy Father arrived in Arquata del Tronto.

In the visit to Pescara Del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto, the Pope was accompanied by Most Reverend Giovanni D’Ercole, bishop of Ascoli Piceno. In Arquata del Tronto, the Pope greeted more than 100 people, addressing a few words to them and praying with them. He also visited a make-shift school that was set up in the tent city.

Here are the Pope’s words to the earthquake victims of Arquata:

“Good afternoon to you all. I wanted to be close to you right now and say to you that you are in my heart and I know, I know your suffering and your anguish, and I also know about your dead, and I am with you, and so I wanted to be here today.

“Now we pray to the Lord to bless you and pray for your loved ones who have stayed there … and gone to heaven. Ave Maria …. [Blessing]

“And courage, always going forward, always forward. Times will change and you will be able to move forward. I am close to you, I’m with you.”

This evening Pope Francis arrived at the last stop on his journey through the earthquake zones: San Pellegrino di Norcia in Umbria.  He was accompanied by the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Most Reverend Renato Boccardo.  The Pope prayed in the red zone in front of the San Pellegrino church which was heavily damaged.  He then greeted the people who were waiting for him outside and using the police megaphone, addressed these words to them: “I greet you all. I was close to you and I feel very close in this time of sadness and pray for you and ask the Lord to give strength to move forward. And now I invite you to pray all together the Hail Mary.”

At 15:30 Pope Francis returned to Rome.



VATICAN CITY (Josephine McKenna – Religious News Service) — While Pope Francis has expressed his sympathy for the victims of Italy’s devastating earthquake, few may have realized the pontiff himself was shaken by the 6.2 magnitude temblor as he slept at his residence inside the walls of the Vatican.

Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, which is close to the medieval towns most affected by the quake, said the pope had telephoned him three times since Wednesday (Aug. 24) to ask about the victims and their families.

More than 290 people were killed when houses and buildings collapsed in the towns north of Rome.

During one of the calls Francis disclosed that the shock waves woke him 100 miles away.

“He told me he had felt the earthquake,” Pompili told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “He had woken up, was informed and celebrated Mass for us at 4 a.m.”

Francis led prayers for the quake victims at the Vatican on Sunday (Aug. 28) and announced plans to visit survivors in the affected area soon.

“He feels very upset,” Pompili said. “He came to this area a couple of times, almost anonymously, in January and July. He loves us.”

Pompili, who was appointed by Francis in 2015, said the pope had also called him during the rescue operations to find out how many children were trapped and how many had been saved.

Italian media reports said the pope did not want to interfere with the emergency operations led by the civil protection department and was expected to visit the area before the Jubilee Year of Mercy ended on November 20.

“I hope to come to see you as soon as possible, to bring you in person the comfort of the faith, the embrace of a father and a brother, and the support of Christian hope,” the pope said in remarks at the noontime Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Sunday.

In a related development, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met with Francis at the Vatican on Monday and afterward announced that Facebook will give 500,000 euros, or about $560,000, to the Italian Red Cross to help relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken region north of Rome.

He said the money would be in the form of advertising credits that can be used on the Facebook platform to promote fundraising, organize volunteers, solicit blood donations, and to help people who need accommodations.

Italy held a day of national mourning for the quake victims Saturday.

The president, Sergio Mattarella, and the prime minister, Matteo Renzi, joined hundreds at a state funeral in Ascoli Piceno to mourn 35 of the victims, including an 18-month-old baby, while flags flew at half-staff across the country.

More funerals were due to be held in the devastated town of Amatrice on Tuesday evening.


(Vatican Radio) – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is set to be canonized on Sunday, September 4th.

Mother Teresa founded the religious order Missionaries of Charity, which is based in Calcutta, India. She dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor.

She was beatified by John Paul II in 2003, just 6 years after her death at the age of 87.

The current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity is Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who first met Mother Teresa in 1980.


Listen to part 1 of the interview with Sister Prema: 

She told Vatican Radio Mother Teresa’s holiness was so present in her life, the members of the congregation took it for granted.

“We lived with Mother and we took it for granted that she is available and that she is always attentive to us,” she said.

Listen to Part 2 of the interview with Sister Prema:

“We enjoyed her presence and we wanted to know from her how she lived the day, and how she went about the work she was doing,” Sister Prema continued.

“But deeply, I did not know how she was united with Jesus, and how deeply she lived the Gospel message of Jesus,” – Sister Prema said – “I can see that the works of mercy had become like a second nature to Mother, but that was Mother, and we took it for granted.”