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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis visited Greccio to sign a letter on Nativity scene tradition

Pope Francis visited the Franciscan shrine in Greccio on Sunday afternoon. It is the place where, in the 13th century, St. Francis started the tradition of the Nativity scene.

Upon arriving to the town, the pope warmly greeted a group of sick and disabled people who waited for him with their family members.

At the sanctuary, the pope was welcomed by the Bishop of Rieti and the Franciscan groundskeeper of the shrine.

A crowd holding colorful balloons cheered as the pope walked by. A group of children sang this song about St. Francis.

Once inside the sanctuary, the pope stopped for a moment of silent prayer.

Then he signed “Admirabile signum,” an apostolic letter on the significance of the Nativity scene.

Afterward he stopped to talk to the religious men and women gathered in the grotto. They shared a moment of laughter after the pope surprised them with an unexpected question.

And how does the bishop behave?

Then they all took a group photo.

Pope Francis exited the grotto and greeted the people waiting for him outside. He was surprised to see them wearing traditional costumes for the living Nativity scene.

Pope Francis then offered a reflection on the Gospel reading of the Nativity of Jesus. The pope reminded those present of the importance of simplicity, wisdom, silence and prayer. He also spoke of the need to recognize in the Nativity the sign of God's immense love for humanity.

This simple and visible sign of the Nativity, which faith has grasped and passed from generation to generation, shows the great mystery of our faith: God loves us to the point of sharing our humanity and our life. He never leaves us alone.

The pope blessed those gathered, asking God to grant them peace. As he left to head back to Rome, this choir was in charge of saying goodbye.

Claudia Torres