Pope Francis appeals to pray for persecuted Christians
Pope Francis asked the faithful on Sunday to pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution. "Let us pray especially for Christians who suffer persecution," he said, adding, "[and] in these times, there are many Christians who suffer persecution, a great many, in many countries: let us pray for them from our heart, with love, that they might feel the living and comforting presence of the Risen Lord."
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The Pope made his appeal before more than 80 thousand people in St Peter's Square, gathered to pray the Regina Caeli with him on the third Sunday of Easter. In his remarks ahead of the traditional Eastertide prayer, Pope Francis commented on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles read at Mass, which speaks of the first preaching of the Apostles. The Pope reiterated that the faith of the Apostles was based on such a deep and personal experience of the crucified and risen Christ, that they were not afraid of anything or anyone, not even persecution and that their testimony is a valid teaching for all of us today.
"The Apostles," said Pope France, "even saw their persecution as a badge of honor, that made them capable of following in the footsteps of Jesus and to be like Him, bearing witness [to Him] with their lives."
After the Regina Caeli, the Pope recalled that on Saturday in Venice, was beatified Don Luca Passi, a nineteenth century priest from Bergamo and founder of the Lay Work of St Dorothy and the Institute of the Sisters of St Dorothy. The Holy Father also noted that in Italy, this Sunday is the Day for the Catholic Sacro Cuore University – the University of the Sacred Heart, which has prepared and continues to prepare young people to be good citizens and true contributors to the common good.