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Pope Francis visits Auschwitz: "Lord, have mercy on your people, sorry for such cruelty"

2016-07-29

Alone and in silence, Pope Francis wanted to visit Auschwitz not to talk but to listen. He crossed the mythical entrance where prisoners could read this perverse message: "work liberates;” and while there, as he sat on a simple bench, he dedicated 15 minutes to a silent prayer.

As he did before the monument commemorating the genocide of the Armenians, the Pope wanted his visit to the Nazi concentration camp to hold the same tone: the silent memory of a tragedy showing the worst side of human beings.

He greeted one-by-one 10 Holocaust survivors in the square where prisoners were shot and killed; against the "wall of death.” Today, it stands reconstructed. At his feet, the Pope placed a candle and the place his hand on the memorial wall. 

Pope Francis was able to fulfil his wish to pray in the tiny dark cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe died. The Franciscan friar offered to die instead of letting another prisoner, who had a family to care for. Afterwards, he left this written note. 

In Birkenau, Psalm 130 was heard. The desperate aching cry for help to God out of the depths paid tribute to the memorial for those who died in the concentration camps during World War II was heard. Among the attendees, there were 25 people  who saved the Jewish people from the Holocaust.

Pope Francis wanted a quiet visit, aimed to contemplate; perhaps because there are no words to describe one of the greatest horrors of history.


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