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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis, referencing Greek mythology, tells youth: “Know thyself”

Pope Francis went to a school run by the Ursuline Sisters in Athens, for the final event of his trip.

This is how the school's youngest students welcomed the Pope.

Then in the school pavilion, the choir sang “Jesus Christ, you are my life.”

Then there were some traditional dances.

Three young people shared their experiences with the Pope. They asked him how to face life's challenges and self-doubt.

One of them, Aboud, is a refugee. He told the Pope how he had to escape from Syria with his family after surviving bombings.

The Pope told them that when facing challenges, it's important not to succumb to destructive thoughts of worthlessness and inadequacy.

"If we stand in front of a mirror, maybe we do not see ourselves as we would like, because we risk focusing only on the things we do not like. Let yourself be loved by someone who always believes in you, by someone who loves you more than you can love yourself."

He also recommended following the maxim of the Oracle of Delphi, which is so well known in Greece.

"Do you remember the famous words inscribed on the entrance of the temple of Delphi? “Know thyself.” Today we run the risk of forgetting who we are, obsessed with putting on a thousand appearances."

The Pope told them that the key to not be overwhelmed by discouragement in front of life's challenges is to understand the value of those challenges. He explained that for God they are very important.

"Remember this well: being a Christian is not fundamentally doing this, doing that...doing things. There are things that must be done, but that is not the most fundamental part. Fundamentally, being a Christian is letting God love you and recognizing that you are unique, you are unique before God's love."

Again citing Greek mythology, the Pope urged the youth not to fall prey to the sirens, like those that called Ulysses, and which lead to destruction.

But to face them, he recommended not following the Greek hero's response, who resisted the sirens by tying himself to his ship's mast. He asked instead to imitate Orpheus, who overcame them by singing a better song.