Pope Francis tweeted today: Forgiveness sets our hearts free and allows us to start anew.  Forgiveness gives hope. Without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

I read that tweet and thought about forgiveness just seconds after seeing the story from Nigeria (see below), and I asked myself: if I had been in that church, could I have forgiven those who comitted this barbaric action? I am not totally sure of the answer but I feel it could be ‘no’.  This is why I admire beyond telling those saints who knew how to ask for and offer forgiveness, even whem seemingly impossible, and therefore lived –heroic virtues!  And I am sure there are many saints-in waiting who live heroic virtues today.


August 5 is the annual feast of Our Lady of the Snows and a great time, notwithstanding torrid temperatures,to experience this feast day if you are in Rome.

Here’s the story in a nutshell:  The year was 358 A.D.   John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and asked them to build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night. John and his wife went to tell their friend Pope Liberius of their dream and, to their astonishment, discovered he had had the same dream

The next morning, August 5, Pope Liberius, John and his wife, joined a massive crowd that had gathered at the site of the snowfall on one of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline. And so, fulfilling Mary’s wish, Our Lady of the Snows was built – a basilica you know as St. Mary Major!

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5 when, during an afternoon Mass, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released from the basilica’s rooftop, both inside and outside, showering the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

The ceiling panel where the flower petals are released is at the top, almost center, of the screen, as the video starts: https://youtu.be/WMY9Xj0O91

Sunday, August 6 was the feast of the Transfiguration and also marked the 39th anniversary of the death of Blessed Paul VI. Pope Francis commemorated his predecessor by going to his tomb in the grotto area of St. Peter’s Basilica. Bishop Semeraro of Albano celebrated Mass for this occasion. The papal palace of Castelgandolfo is in this diocese and that is where Paul VI died.

At the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis said “The ascension of the disciples to Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things, to make our way up a path to contemplate Jesus.” He noted how, “the event of the Lord’s Transfiguration, which the Church celebrates today, “invites us to meet Jesus and to be at the service of our brothers, ,,, It suggests a way to live the holidays because rest and detachment from everyday occupations, can re-energize both body and spirit, deepening the spiritual path.”


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday sent a message of condolences following an attack at a Church in southeastern Nigeria. At least 11 people were killed and 18 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers who had gathered early on Sunday at St Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha. (photo news.va)

In the message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope says he is “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury”. He extends his “heartfelt condolences” to the local bishop and to “all the faithful of the diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.”

Police said they believe the attack may have been linked to drug trafficking and was carried out following a feud between local residents and member of the community living outside Nigeria.

Please see below the full text of the message from Pope Francis to the bishop of the diocese of Nnewi in Nigeria

The Right Reverend Hilary Paul Odili Okeke

Bishop of Nnewi

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack in Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, His Holiness Pope Francis extends heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy. Upon the entire Diocese, His Holiness willingly invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin