The enthusiasm in Erbil's Franso Hariri stadium was palpable. The 10,000 participants in the pope's final event in Iraq thanked him for his visit.
This image of the Virgin Mary was visible on the stage. It was heavily damaged by ISIS fundamentalists.
The pope thanked the Church in Iraq for announcing the wisdom of the cross in the midst of difficulties.
“Many of you have generously offered concrete help and solidarity to the poor and suffering. That is one of the reasons that led me to come as a pilgrim in your midst.”
He said that during these days in the land of Abraham, he has heard voices of pain and anguish, but also of hope and comfort.
“Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart. I ask all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one. I assure you of my prayers for this beloved country.”
Salam, Salam! Sukran! [Thank you.] God bless you all! May God bless Iraq! Allah ma'akum! [God be with you.]
This Mass was the final event in which Iraqis could see Pope Francis up close before he returns to Rome.
On his third day in Iraq, the pope became a dream come true for the Christian community: to see him walk through the streets of their destroyed cities, to listen to their stories and to feel his embrace as a sign that they are no longer alone.
Daniel Díaz Vizzi