I am back in Rome, well, safe and happy, after an astonishing week in my native Chicago and at my alma mater, St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, Indiana. Memories are as alive now as the events were when they occurred – not only the Alumna Achievement Award ceremony at SMC with friends and family but celebratory meals and visits with great friends in Chicago.

My June calendar has filled up rapidly in the past day or two so now a good night’s sleep is on my agenda in order to be ready to go for those events, receptions, parish meetings.

Heartfelt apologies, by the way, to those of you who look forward to getting “Joan’s Rome” in your daily email. I was silent on these pages during my travels but, as usual, I did post a few things on my Facebook page. It’s good to be back with you. Now I’m about to work on this week’s edition of “Vatican Insider.”


As world leaders and veterans commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings in Europe, Pope Francis expressed his appreciation for the courage of soldiers who committed themselves to fighting for freedom and peace.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis sent his gratitude to the soldiers who fought in World War II, in a message read out at Mass by Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger of Bayeux-Lisieux, France. (Vatican photo)

The Holy Father said the Allied landings on June 6, 1944 in Normandy and elsewhere in Europe were “decisive in the fight against Nazi barbarism.”

He said the campaign “opened the path to end World War II, which has so deeply wounded Europe and the world.”

The Pope said he was grateful to the many soldiers who “had the courage to commit themselves and give their lives for freedom and peace.”

He also prayed for the souls of all the fallen soldiers and the millions who died in the war.

Pope Francis expressed his hope that the 75th commemoration of D-Day would allow all generations around the world to recognize that “peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.”


Pope Francis released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for June, which is that priests may commit themselves to “solidarity with those who are most poor.” In that message, the Pope calls us to pray that priests, “through the modesty and humility of their lives, commit themselves actively, above all, to solidarity with those who are most poor.”

Following is the full text of that message:

“I would like to ask you to look at the priests who work in our communities.
They are not perfect, but many give it their all until the very end, offering themselves with humility and joy. They are priests who are close to the people, ready to work hard for everyone. Let us be thankful for their example and testimony. Let us pray that priests, through the modesty and humility of their lives, commit themselves actively, above all, to solidarity with those who are most poor.”

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (vaticannews)

For video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-06/pope-francis-prayer-intention-june-2019.html#play



At today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, and highlighted “two particular corporal works of mercy: welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked,” noting that “Jesus mentions both of these in connection with the Last Judgement. Nowadays, the ‘stranger’ is often the immigrant in our midst.”

“In every age,” said the Pope, “the phenomenon of immigration calls for a response of openness and solidarity.  In our own day, the growing influx of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty is a summons to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters.  Like so many committed Christians who have gone before us, such as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, we need to find generous and creative ways of meeting their immediate needs.

“So too,” he went on to explain, “’clothing the naked’ increasingly means caring for those whose dignity has been stripped from them, and working to ensure that it is upheld and safeguarded.  As followers of Christ, may we never close our hearts to those in need.  For by openness to others, our lives are enriched, our societies enjoy peace and all people can live in a way befitting their God-given dignity.”

Vatican Radio reported that Francis, setting aside his prepared text, told the story of a lady who was approached by a refugee asking directions for the Holy Door. The man, the Pope said, was dirty and barefoot but wanted to go to St. Peter’s Basilica to cross the holy threshold. The woman took stock of his bare feet and called a taxi, but the taxi driver initially didn’t want him on board because he was ‘smelly’. The taxi driver ended up taking the woman and the man who, during the drive, told his story of pain, war, hunger and migration.

On reaching destination, said the Pope, the taxi driver, the same man who initially didn’t want the refugee to board his taxi because he was ‘smelly’, refused to accept payment for his service from the woman because he said: “It is I who should pay you because thanks to you I have listened to a story that has changed my heart.”

The Pope continued, saying that the woman was well aware of the pain of a migrant because she had Armenian blood and knew the suffering of her people. “When we do something like that initially there is some discomfort – ‘a smell’ – but at the end, a story like this brings fragrance to our soul, and changes us. Think about this story and think what you can do for refugees”

This is on the front door of my home. For decades it was on a pillar just inside the front door of my Mom and Dad’s home in California.


At the end of the weekly general audience, the Holy Father reminded the faithful that October, as we near its end, is always the month dedicated to the Rosary, and he invited believers to recite this Marian prayer.

Francis explained that the Rosary is “a synthesis of Divine Mercy,” saying, “With Mary, in the mysteries of the Rosary  we contemplate the life of Jesus which pours forth the mercy of the Father. Let us rejoice in His love and forgiveness, let us recognize it in foreigners and in those who are needy, let us live His Gospel every day.”

In the customary weekly greetings to young people, the sick and newlyweds, Pope Francis said: “May this simple Marian prayer show you, young people, the way to give life to God’s will in your lives; dear sick people, love this prayer because it brings consolation for the mind and the heart; and dear newly wedded spouses, may it represent a privileged moment of spiritual intimacy within your new family”

On October 7, feast of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, Francis tweeted: “The Rosary is the prayer that always accompanies my life: it is also the prayer of simple people and saints…it is the prayer of my heart.”