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Monday, March 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited Rome's "Fosse Ardeatine" to commemorate the 335 victims executed there in 1944 by German occupying forces in Rome, in reprisal for a bomb attack which had left thirty-three Germans dead.

The Pope, who had been invited to make the visit by the National Association of Italian Families of Martyrs who Fell for the Freedom of the Homeland (ANFIM), was accompanied by Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, and by Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo whose father was one of the victims of the massacre.

The Holy Father laid a roses at the foot of the monument to the victims and paused for a moment of prayer. Rabbi Di Segni then read out Psalm 129 in Hebrew, while the Pope read Psalm 123 in Italian, and pronounced a prayer for the dead.

Benedict XVI then entered the mausoleum where he signed the visitors' book then delivered an address to the families of the victims and to others present at the ceremony.

"What happened here on 24 March 1944 was a grave offence to God, because it was deliberate violence of man against man. It was the most deplorable effect of war, of any war; while God is life, peace and communion", said the Pontiff.

"Like my predecessors [Paul VI and John Paul II] I have come here to prayer and to renew the memory. I have come to invoke divine Mercy, which alone can fill the void, the abysses opened by men when, impelled by blind violence, they renounce their dignity as children of God and brothers of one another".

"Yes", the Holy Father cried, "wherever man is, on all continents, to whatever people he belongs, he is the child of that Father Who is in heaven; he is brother to everyone in humanity. But the status of son and brother cannot be taken for granted as, unfortunately the Fosse Ardeatine show. We must seek it, we must say yes to good and no to evil. We must believe in the God of love and life, rejecting any other false image of the divine which betrays His Holy Name and, consequently, betrays man, made in His image.

"For this reason", the Pope added concluding his address, "in this place, sorrowful memorial of the most horrendous of evils, the most authentic response is to take one another by the hand, as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in You, and with the strength of Your love we wish to walk together in peace, in Rome, in Italy, in Europe in the whole world".
BXVI-VISIT/ VIS 20110328 (450)

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