Vatican City, 25 May 2014 (VIS) – After proposing the Vatican as the the location for a prayer meeting between the presidents of the State of Palestine and the State of Israel, Pope Francis prayed the Regina Coeli, commenting that it was precisely there in Bethlehem that Mary gave birth to her Son Jesus and that the Virgin “is the one who, more than any other person, contemplated God in the human face of Jesus. Assisted by Saint Joseph, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger”.
“To Mary we entrust this land and all who dwell here, that they may live in justice, peace and fraternity”, he said. “We entrust also the pilgrims who come here to draw from the sources of the Christian faith – so many of them are also present at this Holy Mass. Mary, watch over our families, our young people and our elderly. Watch over those who have lost faith and hope. Comfort the sick, the imprisoned and all who suffer. Watch over the Church’s Pastors and the entire community of believers; may they may be 'salt and light' in this blessed land. Sustain all educational initiatives, particularly Bethlehem University”.
“Contemplating the Holy Family here in Bethlehem, my thoughts turn spontaneously to Nazareth, which I hope to visit, God willing, on another occasion. From this place I embrace with affection the Christian faithful living in Galilee and I express my support for the building of the International Centre for the Family in Nazareth. We entrust the future of our human family to Mary Most Holy, that new horizons may open in our world, with the promise of fraternity, solidarity and peace”.
After the Regina Coeli, the Pope proceeded to the Franciscan “Casa Nova” convent, a reception centre for pilgrims, built in 1908 and extended and blessed in 1986, which is able to host up to 129 people. There, Francis dined with several families of refugees and Palestinian homeless.