Vatican City, 20 July 2013 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today published the message sent by Pope Francis to Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome, for the 70th anniversary of the bombardment of the San Lorenzo quarter of Rome.
“I am spiritually united with you, with the Capuchin friars and all those gathered in the Basilica of San Lorenzo outside-the-Walls to commemorate the violent bombardment of 19 July 1943, which inflicted serious damage on the sacred building and the entire quarter, as in other parts of the city, sowing death and destruction”.
Francis mentioned in his message that Pope Pius XII, in those terrible hours, was close to his co-citizens who had been so gravely afflicted. Pope Pacelli did not hesitate to hasten to the quarter of San Lorenzo, immediately and without escort, where he assisted and comforted the stricken population. Again, on that occasion, he showed himself to be a caring Pastor among his flock, especially in the hour of need, willing to share in the suffering of his people”.
The Holy Father also made mention of all those who, in such a dramatic moment, joined in offering moral and material assistance, and in particular Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, then acting Secretary of State, who accompanied Pius XII to the quarter of San Lorenzo.
“Many bishops, priests and consecrated persons in Rome and throughout Italy were like the good Samaritan in the parable of the Gospel”, continued the Pope, “tending to the brother in his suffering, to help him and to bring consolation and hope. It was a race to extend charity to every human being in danger and in need of attention and support”.
Pope Francis concluded by recalling the words of Pius XII: “'Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war'. Peace is a gift from God, which today too must find willing hearts to welcome it and to work as builders of reconciliation and peace”.