Pope Francis met with nearly 70,000 Italian military police members and their families, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of their foundation.
The massive audience kicked off with the Pope riding among the crowds at St. Peter's Square. As he made his way to the altar, the police band welcomed him with music.
"An officer is a man that believes, a man that believes in his duty, in sacrifice. He's a man that believes in fulling his duty to live honestly.”
"The Italian people feel close to them because they know that when they need to feel safe, they can go the station and find it there.”
In his remarks, the Pope called the Italian Carabinieri to be among the people, and to place their needs first. He especially asked them to be closest to the peripheries, looking out for the defenseless and those in greatest need.
"Your mission is expressed in service to others, and it compels you to respond every day to the trust and esteem that people have placed in you. It requires constant availability, patience, the spirit of sacrifice, and a sense of duty.”
He asked the officers to be "joyful witnesses of humanity,” and to fight for peace, security, and respect for human rights and dignity.
Halfway through his remarks, he paused for a moment of silence to remember fallen officers.
Along those lines, he also announced that on September 13, he would travel to a military cemetery and memorial in northern Italy, to honor the victims of all wars.
"The reason is to mark the centennial of the start of the enormous tragedy that was World War I, and of which I've heard so many painful stories, from the lips of my grandfather, who fought in the Piave region.”
At the end of the audience, the chief of the Italian military police force gave the Pope a small sculpture of two carabinieri. A cadet also gave him a traditional carabinieri hat, with ruffled, blue and red feathers.