.- Late Saturday afternoon Pope Francis went to the Vatican grottos to pray in private for the souls of the deceased pontiffs interred there.
November 2 marks the Feast of All Souls, a day traditionally dedicated to praying for those who have died.
In his homily on November 1, the Feast of all Saints, Pope Francis had spoken of the deceased saints saying, “Those who have preceded us and have died in the Lord are there (in heaven). It was proclaimed that they were saved not through their own work – even though they had done good work – but they were saved by the Lord.”
Today was not the first time Pope Francis has prayed at the tomb of his predecessors. On Easter Monday last April, the Bishop of Rome had prayed at the tombs of Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI and John Paul I, preceding his moment of prayer close to the tomb of St. Peter under St. Peter’s Basilica.
Last Thursday, he prayed at the tomb of John Paul II inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
Friday’s mass was celebrated in the Verano Cemetery, one of the largest in Rome, where many Catholics from the city were buried in the 19th century.
Pope Francis spoke of the importance of gratitude and hope in life when facing death.
“And if today we remember our brothers and sisters who have preceded us in life and are in Heaven, it is because they were washed in the blood of Christ,” he said. “This is our hope: hope in the blood of Christ! A hope that does not disappoint.”
After the Mass, Pope Francis blessed the tombs there and prayed for immigrants who had recently lost their lives “searching for freedom.”
Pope Francis will celebrate a mass on Monday for deceased cardinals and bishops.