Pope Francis participated in a prayer meeting at the National Shrine of 'Ta' Pinu', the most famous pilgrimage site in Malta. According to tradition, Our Lady appeared here in 1883.
The shrine is on the island of Gozo. Pope Francis arrived by catamaran and then by popemobile. In the courtyard in front of the shrine, 3,000 faithful were waiting for him. The Pope was scheduled to leave a golden rose in front of an image of the Virgin, but due to his knee pain, a bishop made the offering instead. During the meeting, he listened to several testimonies from the faithful.
The Pope reminded those present that the Church has always had difficulties, even in its earliest days.
We read that the disciples argued, that they even quarreled among themselves, and that they did not always understand the Lord's teachings. To return to our origin means to recover the spirit of the first Christian community, that is, to return to and rediscover the heart of the faith.
He also asked the faithful to rekindle the fire of their faith and not simply to rely on customs and outward gestures to maintain a religious appearance. The Pope said the joy of the Church is evangelizing.
An elegant closet of religious habits does not always correspond to an enthusiastic faith
fueled by the dynamism of evangelization. It is necessary to be vigilant so that religious practices are not reduced to the repetition of
Pope Francis then gave the Maltese people some concrete ways of living out this religious practice like taking care of the refugees coming from Africa or Ukraine.
You are in a crucial geographical position, facing the Mediterranean as a desirable place to come and a port of salvation for so many people shaken by the storms of life who, for various reasons, arrive on your shores. It is Christ Himself in the faces of these poor people.
After the ceremony, the Pope went to the Apostolic Nunciature, where he will spend the first night of his trip to Malta.