Vatican City, 14 July 2013 (VIS) - “I have come to spend a day meeting with the citizens of Castel Gandolfo, with the pilgrims and all the visitors who justly love this place, who are enchanted by its beauty”, said Pope Francis to the employees of the Pontifical Villas of the small town where the popes traditionally spend the summer. The Holy Father expressed his gratitude to the employees and their families for the work they carry out in the service of the Holy See.
The meeting took place on the terrace of the apostolic palace at Castel Gandolfo and was attended by Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, the diocese to which Castel Gandolfo belongs, Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas, and the mayor of Castel Gandolfo, Milvia Monachesi. The presence of the bishop enabled the Pope to greet with affection the parish community of Castel Gandolfo and the religious communities in the area, and he encouraged them to “renew with joy and enthusiasm the commitment to proclaiming and witnessing the Gospel”. In his address to the mayor he invited the citizens of Castel Gandolfo “to be a sign of hope and peace, always attentive to those people and families most in difficulty”. He added, “This is important! We must always be a sign of hope and peace at this time. Open the doors to hope, so that hope might continue to work towards peace, for ever”.
Pope Francis then mentioned John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who used to spend part of the summer there. “Many of you had the opportunity to meet and welcome them, and conserve dear memories of them. May their witness always encourage you in your daily fidelity to Christ and in your continual efforts to lead a life consonant with the demands of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church”.
Finally, he entrusted those present to the Virgin Mary, who two days later would be commemorated as the Virgin of Mount Carmel, beseeching her to watch over them and their families. “I beg you all to pray for me too, and for my service”, he added; “I need your prayers”.