On the last leg of a one-day trip to the Molise region in central Italy, Pope Francis kicked off the Jubilee to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Celestine V.
As the meeting with townspeople in Isernia began, the Pope greeted the sick and the elderly inside the main cathedral. During the celebration at the main square, he heard about Celestine's simplicity and his historic papacy.
"He would make the friars of his order sell their silver chalices, he sold the silk vestments for liturgical use, or donated them to other churches, so that the friars would in no way surround themselves with valuables.”
"After his election as Pope, he refused to travel with steeds and grooms. Following the example from his Lord, he called for a donkey. Upon hearing this, the cardinals that delighted themselves with beautiful horses and grooms were amazed by his great humility.”
During his remarks, Pope Francis expressed his admiration for Celestine V's mercy, comparing his compassion and dedication to the poor to that of St. Francis of Assisi. As he inaugurated the Celestinian Jubilee Year, he invoked mercy for all the participants.
"It is not an escape, is not an evasion from reality and its problems. It is the answer that comes from the Gospel: love as a force of purification of consciences, strength to renew social relations, strength to devise a diverse economy, which focuses on the person, work, the family family, rather than money and profits.”
The Pope called on participants to carry on "works of mercy” in order to live out the Jubilee Year and to honor Celestine V's legacy.
For most people, the hermit pontiff is best known for confirming a Pope's right to resign, and doing so five months after his election. Benedict XVI followed his example nearly 700 years later.