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Pope visits Roman cemetery and urges people to question themselves about death

2013-11-04

On the date the Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day, Pope Francis spoke about the so called sunset of life and hope, during a Mass at Rome's Cemetery of Verano.

Ignoring the speech he'd written for the occasion, Pope Francis gave an improvised homily. Talking about those who passed away, he also spoke about Heaven, the place for all of those who lived life trusting in God. 

POPE FRANCIS
"At this time, before sunset we are gathered in this cemetery to think about our future and about all those who are no more, those who have gone before us in life and are now in the Lord. The vision of heaven that we heard about in the First Reading is so beautiful: in the Lord God, beauty, goodness, truth, tenderness, full love. All this awaits us."

Pope Francis also asked direct questions to the pilgrims, a gesture he's known to do very often. This time, he asked them about their life's "sunset” and how they would like it to be. 

POPE FRANCIS
"As the sun starts to set today, each one of us can think of the sunset of our own lives... how will my sunset be? Mine, yours, yours, and yours, and even yours; All of us will pass away one day! Do I look at this with hope, with the joy of being received by the Lord? This is a Christian thought, that brings peace to us."

Before the end of the ceremony, the Pope said a prayer for the dead and in a special gesture, he also included all of the immigrants who pass away tragically in their search for a better life.

POPE FRANCIS
"I would like to pray especially for our brothers and sisters who have died seeking freedom, a more deserving life. We have seen the photographs depicting the cruelty of the desert; we have seen the sea where many have drowned. Let us pray for them. And let us also pray for the survivors, who now languish in shelters, in the hope that the necessary legal procedures will be completed swiftly so that they might move on to other more comfortable places, in other centers."

The Verano cemetery is the largest one in Rome. With this visit, Pope Francis resumed an old custom set up by John Paul II, who last visited the graveyard about 20 years ago. Though he didn't visit the graves, Benedict XVI also celebrated Mass at the cemetery's parish


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