Pope Francis held an audience with members of the Inspectorate of Public Security at the Vatican, on the 75th anniversary of their founding. They're the Italian police who work on Vatican territory, especially in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis first thanked the police orchestra for their rendition of Carlos Gardel's “Por una cabeza,” which filled Paul VI hall as he greeted those present on the way to the podium.
“I would like to thank you because it was nice to enter the hall with the nostalgia of fall in Buenos Aires. Thank you!”
He then turned to the rest of the police force with special words of gratitude, recalling the tireless work of these men and women since throughout the entity's history.
“Thank you very much for your precious service, characterized by diligence, professionalism and a spirit of sacrifice. I admire above all your patience in dealing with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures, and if I may, in dealing with priests!”
The Italian police coordinate security efforts for the pope whenever he moves within the country, which Pope Francis readily remembered.
“My acknowledgment extends also to your efforts in accompanying me during my travels within Rome and my visits to dioceses and communities in Italy. It's hard work that requires discretion and balance, to ensure that the pope's itineraries do not lose their specific character of encounter with God's people. For all of this, once again, I thank you.”
Following the pope's address, those present said a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, patron of the Italian police force.
After the prayer and the pope's blessing, Luciana Lamorgese and Franco Gabrielli, Chief of Police, presented this golden plaque to the pope.
Pope Francis then walked across the stage to personally thank the musicians, among them tenor Francesco Grollo, whose voice filled the hall at the audience's conclusion.