During Mass in the central Italian city of L’Aquila on the occasion of the “Celestinian Pardon”, Pope Francis recalls the power of God to accomplish all things, as well as the courageous, often misunderstood witness of Pope Celestine V who resigned in 1294.
August 29, 2022
Mass in front of St. Mary’s Basilica in Collemaggio, L’Aquila
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
God can do anything for those who believe.
Pope Francis underlined this during the Mass he celebrated in the central Italian city of L’Aquila, where he made a pastoral visit on August 28 on the occasion of the forgiveness of the Celestines.
He presided over the Eucharistic celebration in the square in front of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Collemaggio.
The pope’s visit to the Italian city comes 13 years after the devastating 2009 earthquake that killed 309 people. The month of the earthquake, Pope Benedict XVI visited L’Aquila.
Tradition of the ‘perdonanza’
Every August 28-29 in L’Aquila, Catholics renew the solemn rite of Pardon (“Perdonance”), the perpetual plenary indulgence that Pope Celestine V granted to the faithful.
In his homily, the Pope drew our attention to the saints, Pope Celestine V, and the mercy of God who liberates us and brings us joy.
Misunderstood Pope Celestine V & God next to the humble
Recalling that he celebrates Mass on a “special day” for the city, that of “Pardon Célestinien”, the Holy Father recalled that the relics of Pope Celestine V – who resigned from the papacy in 1294 – are kept at L ‘Aquila.
The Holy Father observed that Pope Celestine “humbled himself”, finding favor with God.
In fact, the pope noted, there is no other way to accomplish God’s will than to assume the strength of the humble.
“Precisely because they are such, the humble appear weak and losers in the eyes of men and women, when in reality,” he explains, “they are victors because they are the ones who entrust themselves totally to the Lord and know his will. “
It is “to the humble,” Pope Francis said, “that God reveals his secrets, and through the humble he is glorified.”
In this world so often dominated by pride, the Pope reflected, the Word of God invites us to become humble and meek.
God can do anything
Humility, the Holy Father explained, does not consist in putting oneself down, “but rather in this healthy realism which makes us recognize our potentials as well as our misery”.
The strength of the humble is the Lord, the Pope said, “not strategies or human means”.
“In this sense, Celestine V was a courageous witness to the Gospel because there was neither logic nor power capable of imprisoning or controlling him. In him,” Pope Francis said, “we let us admire a Church freed from worldly logic, witness to that name of God which is Mercy.”
This is the very heart of the Gospel, continued the Holy Father, “because mercy is knowing that we are loved in our misery”.
The Pope invited all the faithful to always draw closer to Christ, Son of God and to his mercy.
joy of mercy
For centuries, he noted, “L’Aquila kept alive the gift that Pope Celestine V himself left to it”, namely the reminder “that with mercy, and with mercy alone, the life of every man and woman can be lived with joy.”
May our Church, the Pope expressed, always be a place where people can be reconciled “and experience that Grace which puts us back on our feet and gives us another chance”.
The pope prayed that it would be “a church of forgiveness, not once a year, but always.”
The Holy Father acknowledged how much the people of L’Aquila suffered, following the devastating earthquake of 2009, and warned of another type of suffering, an “earthquake of the soul”.
This type of earthquake brings us into contact with our own fragility, our own limits, our own misery.
“In such a circumstance, we can allow life to make us bitter, or we can learn sweetness.”
Capital of Forgiveness and Transformation
“Too often,” the pope lamented, “people base their worth on their place in the world.”
“The Christian knows that his life is not a career after the manner of the world, but a career after the manner of Christ who said of himself that he had come to serve and not to be served”, declared Pope.
If we do not understand that the revolution of the Gospel is contained in this type of freedom, the Pope suggested, we will continue to witness war, violence and injustice.
Pope Francis concluded by reminding the people of L’Aquila of the devotion of the Blessed Mother and praying “her maternal intercession to obtain forgiveness and peace for the whole world”.
Pope Francis’ visit to L’Aquila falls the day after the Pope’s consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in the Vatican, and during the August 27-29 meeting, the Holy Father asked cardinals from around the world to meet to the Vatican to reflect on the recently published Apostolic Constitution Evangelium Predicate on the reform of the Roman curia.—Vatican News