Pope prays for peace in Basque region, illuminated by St. Francis Xavier

.- Following his general audience held earlier today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI extended a special greeting to pilgrims from Spain, who will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of their own St. Francis Xavier on Friday.

The Pope called St. Francis "the great Jesuit missionary who preached the Gospel in the lands of Asia, opening many doors to Christ."

He added that he unites himself “with that celebration, thanking the Lord for this great gift to His Church. ... In contemplating the figure of St. Francis Xavier we feel called to pray for those who dedicate their lives to the evangelizing mission, proclaiming the beauty of the salvific message of Jesus.”

Benedict also invited those gathered "to pray that, through the intercession of this saint, everyone may intensify efforts to consolidate the horizons of peace that seem to be opening in the Basque Country and in all Spain, and to overcome the obstacles that may arise on this long journey."

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