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Pope visits northern Italian region devastated by 2012 earthquake

April 03, 2017

On April 2, Pope Francis spent eight hours in the Diocese of Carpi, located in an area of northern Italy devastated by earthquakes in 2012.

Arriving in Carpi, a city of 70,000, the Pope celebrated Mass in the Piazza Martiri and applied the day’s Gospel reading (the raising of Lazarus) to the residents’ situation.

“In front of the big ‘why’ of life, we have two options: to sit back sadly in the tombs of yesterday and today, or to bring Jesus to our graves,” the Pope preached. “Yes, because each of us has a small tomb, some area a bit ‘dead’ inside our heart: a wound, an injury suffered or done, a bitterness that gives no respite, a remorse that comes back and back again …We identify these, our little graves, and there we invite Jesus.”

At the conclusion of Mass, the Pope blessed foundation stones for three new buildings and led the faithful in the recitation of the Angelus.

“Our thoughts turn to the Blessed Virgin, whom you venerate in your cathedral dedicated to her,” he said. “To Mary, we offer our joys, our sorrows and our hopes. We ask for her mercy for those of us who are suffering, especially the sick, the poor and those without decent work.”

Following lunch at Carpi’s seminary, the Pope spoke extemporaneously to priests, religious, and seminarians in the seminary chapel.

The Pope was then driven to Mirandola, a town of 20,000 whose cathedral is still unusable because of the earthquake. Speaking in front of the cathedral, he said:

I am well aware of how much the earthquake has affected the human and cultural heritage of this land of yours. I think of the hardships you have suffered: damage to your homes, to your productive activities, to churches and other monuments, rich in history and art and a symbol of the spirituality and culture of an entire people.

But I think especially of the inner wounds: the suffering of those who lost their loved ones and those who have seen the disappearance of a lifetime’s sacrifices. In the days following the earthquake, your example of dignity and resourcefulness inspired great admiration in all. You have endeavored to face with evangelical spirit the precarious situation caused by the earthquake, recognizing and accepting in painful events the mysterious presence of a Father who is always loving even in the toughest trials.

After laying flowers at a monument to the earthquake victims, the Pope returned by helicopter to the Vatican.

 
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