Twenty elementary school children from northeast Japan promised Pope Benedict “they would never give up” in the face of adversity.
The children traveled from the Japanese city of Ofunato, to Italy and greeted the Pope at the conclusion of this week’s Wednesday General Audience, reports L’Osservatore Romano.
Ofunato is a coastal city which was impacted by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
They told the Pope of their will to “live and be reborn” and of their effort to “rebuild our still-beautiful city.” They also pledged to “never lose their smiles, which are a source of hope.”
To symbolize this hope, the mayor of the Japanese city of Hokuto, Masashi Shirakura, presented the Pope with a branch of cherry tree blossoms.
This will to be reborn, he said, “is the same that lifted up Nagasaki after the nuclear blast of August 9, 1945. The flowers were the first to blossom just 30 days after the disaster, to the surprise of all. They became of symbol of hope,” the mayor said.