Pope Francis had a meeting with volunteers, workers, pastors, and others responsible for sanctuaries across the globe. They had come to Rome on their own pilgrimage for the Jubilee.
Monsignor Rino Fisichella listed all of the countries they came from.
"Here are workers from Italy, France, the United States, the Philippines, Ukraine, Spain, Lithuania, Egypt, Costa Rica, Peru, England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Mexico, Portugal, Ireland...”
Undertaking pilgrimages is a clear expression of the faith, the Pope explained. Therefore, he said that the popular piety of those who visit sanctuaries must not be undervalued.
"This popular religiosity is a genuine form of evangelization that should be promoted and valued, without minimizing its importance.”
The Pope added that the pilgrims should be welcomed with patience, excitement, and affection. It's done through simple gestures.
"The welcome is a determinant for evangelization. Sometimes, a simply a word or smile is enough to make a person feel appreciated and welcomed.”
Further, he added that this sort of welcome won't just make feel someone invited. It will make them feel like family. That's important because a sanctuary is like a home.
"The sanctuary is a house of forgiveness, where everyone encounters the tenderness of the Father who has mercy for all. No one is excluded.”
Before leaving, Pope Francis spent almost half an hour greeting the pilgrims, who just hours before had walked through the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica.