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Pope Francis visits Our Lady of Bonaria

(Vatican Radio) The Pope on Sunday celebrated Holy Mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria, in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia.

The pastoral voyage has a special significance for Pope Francis, whose hometown of Buenos Aires in Argentina takes its from Our Lady of Bonaria.

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In his homily, Pope Francis said he had come to Cagliari to “to share with you the joys and hopes, efforts and commitments, ideals and aspirations of your island, and to confirm you in the Faith.” He spoke in particular about economic difficulties, especially the high level of unemployment and job insecurity.

“The loyal cooperation of everyone is necessary, with the commitment of leaders of institutions — even within the Church — to ensure the fundamental rights of persons and families, and to grow more fraternal and united. To ensure the right to work, to bring home bread, bread earned by work!”

Pope Francis said he had also come to Cagliari “to place myself, with you, at the feet of the Madonna, who gives us his Son.” For hundreds of years, the people of Sardinia have invoked the protection of Our Lady of Bonaria; on Sunday, the Pope called on them once more to entrust themselves to her, and to remain constant in prayer. “We must not tire of knocking on the God’s door,” he said. “Let us bring our whole life, every day, to the heart of God through Mary!”

Finally, the Holy Father said he had come to Cagliari “to encounter the gaze of Mary.” In Mary’s maternal regard for her children, Pope Francis said, there is a reflection of the loving of God the Father for His people, and of the look of love with which Jesus entrusted St. John to Mary at the foot of the Cross – recalling the reading of the day’s Gospel. “Let us ask Mary to look upon us,” the Pope said, that we might meet the loving Father.

Mary, Pope Francis said, “teaches us to have that look that seeks to welcome, to guide, to protect. Let us learn to look at each other under the maternal gaze of Mary! There are people who we instinctively give less attention to, people who instead have most need of it: the most abandoned, the sick, those who have nothing to live on, those who do not know Jesus, young people who are in trouble, the young who can’t find work.”

Concluding his address in the local dialect, Pope Francis prayed “May Our Lady of Bonaria accompany you throughout your whole life!”

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