The pope went to the International Shrine of the Mother of God in Aglona, Latvia, one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage place in the country. Thousands of pilgrims waited for him there in the rain.
The mass, which Pope Francis celebrated in Latin and Latvian, was accompanied by this local choir, who wore traditional costumes.
In his homily he proposed the example of Mary at the foot of the cross, who offers her unconditional support to all, including those most punished by society.
“Like Mary, let us remain steadfast, our hearts at peace in God. Let us be ever ready to lift up the fallen, raise up the lowly and to help end all those situations of oppression that make people feel crucified themselves.”
He recalled the words of Bishop Sloskans, the bishop of Latvia who was persecuted and imprisoned by the Soviet police.
“Bishop Sloskans, who rests here, after being arrested and sent away, wrote to his parents: 'I beg you from the bottom of my heart: do not let vengeance or exasperation find a way into your hearts. If we permitted that to happen, we would not be true Christians, but fanatics.'”
The pope reminds us that Mary was a woman open to forgiveness, who knew how to put aside grudges and differences and invited Christians to “welcome without discrimination.”
After giving the blessing, the pope prayed before this ancient image of the Virgin that has been guarded in this place. It was his last great ceremony in Latvia and he said goodbye.