Verona (Italy). On 18 May 2024, on the eve of Pentecost, Pope Francis paid a pastoral visit to Verona, Veneto.

Welcomed on his arrival by Mons. Domenico Pompili, Bishop of Verona; by Luca Zaia, President of the Veneto Region; and Demetrio Martino, Prefect of Verona; Damiano Tommasi, Mayor of Verona, the Pope met priests and consecrated persons, children and young people at the Basilica of San Zeno. He presided over the meeting “Arena of Peace – Justice and Peace will kiss” in the Arena di Verona. He then joined detainees, Prison Police officers, and volunteers at the Casa Circondariale of Montorio. After lunch with them, he celebrated the Eucharist at the Bentegodi Stadium for thousands of people. (Program with discorses and homilies)

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Bl. Laura Vicuña Community, of St. Mary D. Mazzarello Province (ITV), who participated in some moments, recount the emotions of meeting with the Holy Father:

A very special feast of Pentecost that we experienced on Saturday 18 May. The Church of Verona received a great gift with the visit of Pope Francis, as well as the small community of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians present in the Salesian parish of Holy Cross. They were able to meet him and listen at some moments of the rich day, at the Basilica of San Zeno and then at the Bentegodi Stadium

The Pope met a Verona with many faces, the devout Verona and gathering of religious and priests; the enthusiastic one of young people; the active one of civil society, those suffering imprisonment. Everyone was waiting for him with enthusiasm and welcomed him with great warmth.

As religious, priests, and many others consecrated persons, in the morning we all participated in the meeting with the Pope at the Basilica of San Zeno, patron saint of the city. We were surprised because, despite having arrived very early, the Basilica was already full and there were many young people waiting in the square. It all went very smoothly and quietly, with a large number of volunteers. We were also struck by the attention and time that the Pope dedicated to the cloistered nuns when he began the meeting in San Zeno.

One of the older sisters recounts, “I was struck by his simplicity. I returned home and I no longer felt tired; it was an unforgettable encounter. He gave me a great spiritual charge, like having met the Lord Jesus who encourages us to go forward.” Another Sister managed to touch the Pope’s hand with much emotion. “I want to touch the Pope”, said the Sister, and she tried to make room to reach the barrier where he passed. She succeeded, even if only for a moment! Then she relates, “Many times I have seen the Pope, but he did not move me as in the past; but now I felt him more familiar.” The Animator, Sister Eliana Biffi, recounts, “I listened carefully to the homily he addressed to us because I felt that it was a heart-to-heart dialogue. I was touched above all by the words of the Pope who invited us, when we live dark moments of disappointment, to remember our first call and to resist; he repeated it many times.”

At the Bentegodi stadium, the vigil Mass of Pentecost celebrated by the Pope, ended this festive day. Sister Eliana recounts, “I was there with a group from our Salesian parish Santa Croce, composed of catechists, young people, families. The wait was very long, from 11.00 to 4.00, with the animation of young people in the diocesan youth ministry. It was worth it, however, because it was wonderful to be there together with 31,000 Veronese of all ages, singing and repeating the ola dozens of times for all the stands and shouting to the rhythm ‘Pope Francis’. An enthusiasm that fatigue did not turn off. He must have been very tired by now at the end of the day, but he still went to greet us along the perimeter of the stadium, especially stopping close to the disabled. The Holy Father received great applause.”

Here are the testimonies of some young people:

“For months we have been waiting for this special meeting; without expectations but with a great joy in our hearts, a strong enthusiasm! Today we have seen so much beauty; 31 thousand faithful gathered, young people cheerful and full of energy, songs, dances, many ‘ole’, but above all a great desire to meet Pope Francis and welcome him to our city in the best possible way.

Once again, we were amazed by his humanity, his continuous desire to meet us.

The theme addressed, Justice and Peace, touched each of us for its strong relevance because of the wars in the world, the culture of waste. Being able to see so many people gathered together for a greater good, for the truth, gave so much hope.

Today we have experienced powerful emotions, capable of taking small steps even in our daily life, in the encounter with our brothers and sisters!”.

Thank you, Pope Francis! May the Church of Verona live a new spring, also sustained by the message of hope that you have brought us and by the Spirit that dwells in us.


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