With the symbolic lighting of this lamp, Pope Francis illuminated the Christmas tree and Nativity scene in the Italian city of Assisi. It was a very special manger, made from the remainder of a boat used to carry migrants to the coast of Lampedusa.
Earlier, the Pope listened attentively to the testimony of a woman who had escaped attacks by Boko Haram with her family.
"Since we cannot stay in northern Cameroon, I decided to flee with my family. But I have lost all of them: my daughter Elvira, who is four and a half years old, my mother in law, my brother in law, and my brother. I lost all of them because of the war.”
Antonio, commander of the Italian Coast Guard, also spoke. He told the Pope that they had been able to save more than 5,400 people in the ocean. Among them were many babies. He recalled a particular rescue where a four-day-old baby was saved twice.
"On the way back to the port, all of our thoughts were with this little creature that, in a few hours, and for the second time, was struggling against death. The news we received when we got back to the port filled us with joy. The baby was taken taken to the city, was in danger, but soon would be better.”
The Pope thanked the Italian Coast Guard for their work and noted that all people who died in the ocean were just seeking a better future. He offered a few words of hope to the refugees.
"To all of you refugees, I say a few brief words. Those of the prophet: Raise your heads, the Lord is close. And with him there is strength, salvation, and hope. The heart sometimes hurts but the head is high with the hope of the Lord.”
Thirty-one immigrants and refugees attended the Nativity ceremony. It took place in the same exact spot where Saint Francis of Assisi began the tradition in the 12th century.