.- Following his general audience this morning at the Vatican, Pope Benedict greeted a group of delegates from the Italian diocese of Spoleto-Norcia who came bearing the “Torch of Peace”, a powerful symbol which the Pope hopes will encourage a greater “witness to Christian values in Europe.”
Archbishop Riccardo Fontana led the group carrying the Benedictine Torch which the Pope called "an important symbol…that has now reached its 30th anniversary."
The Holy Father spoke about the torch’s departure from Moscow earlier this year "after having been welcomed by a representative of the Patriarch Alexis II," and its travels through Germany, at the monastery of Ottobeuren and at Marktl am Inn, Pope Benedict’s hometown.
The Pope told the pilgrims that, "As a symbol of peace, the torch today rests near the tombs of the Apostles, and will later continue its journey to Norcia. May this important initiative encourage an ever more generous commitment to bear witness to Christian values in Europe."
Afterwards, the Holy Father addressed a group of pilgrims from Poland, expressing his shared joy "for the opening last week of the cause of beatification of the Servant of God, the much-loved Pope John Paul II. To your prayers I entrust the progress of this cause."