It was a beautiful day in Rome, and many parents took their children to meet Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square. As he made his way in the Popemobile, many pilgrims gave him shirts and even asked for the Pope to bless their rosaries.
In his catechesis, Pope Francis encouraged people to prepare for the upcoming Holy Week ceremonies. He asked them to not just commemorate the Passion but delve into the mystery of the faith. He highlighted that before presenting the Eucharist, Jesus gave the example of service by washing the feet of the Apostles.
"If we approach Holy Communion without sincerely being willing to wash the feet of others, then we do not recognize the Body of the Lord."
The Pope invited people to put their lives in the service of others. He also talked about the life of a priest and modern martyr, Andrea Santoro, who was murdered in Turkey nine years ago.
"A few days before he was murdered in Trabzon, he wrote: 'I am here to live among these people and allow Jesus to do so by lending Him my body. We become able to save only if we offer our own lives. We must take the evil in the world and share the pain, absorbing it into ourselves as Jesus did.'"
The Pope also recalled that this week is the 10th anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. He also greeted the thousands of students participating in the Univ Congress.
"I am pleased to welcome the university students gathered in Rome for the international Univ meeting. FLASH I encourage you to grow in friendship with the Lord, because 'what is needed is not an easy life but one filled with love.'”
Each year, the Univ Congress meets in Rome, and thousands of students from all continents come to experience Holy Week near the Pope. This year, about 2,500 signed up. They also raised money to help Christians in the Middle East.