The live-streamed ceremony fell on the last day of the 55th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, dedicated to the theme “We saw a star in the East, and we came to worship him,” inspired by Matthew 2:2.
At the start of the service, the Second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul, the pope venerated the saint’s tomb, with Metropolitan Polykarpos, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Pope Francis began his homily by thanking the two men for their presence. He also greeted students from the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Switzerland and Anglican students from Nashotah, Wisconsin.
He reflected on the example of the Magi — also known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings — who came with gifts to worship the Child Jesus shortly after his birth.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the decisive stage of the journey towards full communion requires ever more intense prayer, it requires worship, the worship of God,” the pope said.
“The Magi, however, remind us that worship demands something else of us: first, we must fall to our knees. That is the way: bending low, setting aside our own pretenses in order to make the Lord alone the center of everything. How many times has pride proved the real obstacle to communion!”