Pope celebrates All Souls’ Day Mass at Rome’s military cemetery

Pope Francis visited the French Military Cemetery in Rome on November 2, All Souls’ Day.

Nov 05, 2021

Pope Francis visited the French Military Cemetery in Rome on November 2, All Souls’ Day. During his live-streamed visit, the Pope walked past rows of graves, stopping occasionally to place white flowers, pray in silence or give his blessing before offering Mass on the grounds for the faithful departed.

In his homily, the Pope said that as he walked past the tombs, he noticed one without a name. It said: “Unknown. Died for France, 1944.”

“In the heart of God is the name of all of us, but this is the tragedy of the war,” Pope Francis commented. The Pope said tombs should be a “message of peace,” which urges people to stop manufacturing weapons of war.

“These tombs which speak, cry out … They cry out from within. They cry out: ‘Peace,’” he said.

Many of the soldiers buried there were from Morocco and Tunisia, according to Vatican News, which reported that of the 1,888 buried there, 1,142 were Muslim. These graves are marked with a crescent moon on each tombstone.

“I am sure that all these, who have gone in goodwill, called by their homeland to defend it, are with the Lord. But do we, who are on the way, do we fight sufficiently so that there are no wars?” the Pope asked.

“Why are the economies of countries fortified by the arms industry?”

There were just over 100 people present at the papal Mass in the military cemetery located some two miles (3.2 km) north of the Vatican.

The Pope recalled those who died on the shores of Normandy and at the Battle of Anzio near Rome in World War II, as well as at the Piave River in Italy in World War I.

“These people — good people — died in the war, they died because they were called to defend their homeland, to defend values, to defend ideals and, often, to defend sad and lamentable political situations,” Pope Francis said.

“And they are the victims, the victims of war, which eats the children of the fatherland,” he said.

After visiting the military cemetery, the Pope prayed before the tomb of St Peter and the tombs of deceased popes surrounding St Peter’s tomb in the crypt beneath St Peter’s Basilica.

On All Souls’ Day and throughout Nov, the Church makes a special effort to remember, honour, and pray for the dead. This year, the Vatican is granting a plenary indulgence to Catholics who visit a cemetery to pray for the dead on any day in Nov. --CNA

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