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Monday, June 2, 2014


Vatican City, 31 May 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received in audience the five hundred children from Naples and Rome participating in the “Il Treno dei Bambini” (“The Children's Train”) initiative organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, within the ambit of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles for Children”, which completes its second edition this year.

The children presented the Pope with bracelets made by hand with coloured rubber bands, which he immediately put on, and a plant in a vase with earth from the Neapolitan catacombs of St. Gennaro. Francis enjoyed their adaptation of the famous song, “O Sole mio”, as “O Papa mio”, sung by a choir of children and, after listening to them, he chatted with the participants, and told them that the plant they had given to him was a plant of light.

The pontiff, recalling that the catacombs were dark, said, “You have brought me earth that comes from the darkness … so that it turns into light. … Light is always more important than darkness. … We must go in search of light. Always, inside ourselves. Because light gives us joy and hope. … And thanks to the light it is possible to do what you said when you gave me the plant: ensure that the fruits help us to make a better world. Can we make a better world? Yes! And how do we do this? With hate? No, with love, all together as brothers and sisters, fighting alongside each other for love. And for this, let me tell you something: when the Apostle John, who was a great friend of Jesus, wanted to say who God is, do you know what he said? He said, 'God is love'. … And we go towards the light to find God's love. But God's love is inside us. … Even in moments of darkness, he never abandons us”.

All the Pope's words were interspersed with answers from the children. At the end, Francis said that he was very happy to have spent time with them, and said he would pray to the Lord to make them into boys and girls, men and women who would go forward with love. “When God's love goes ahead, everything goes well”. Finally, he asked the children to sing another song together.

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