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Pope Francis on All Souls’ Day: Christian hope gives life meaning

 RIP9607 Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City Nov. 2, 2020.

Pope Francis visited a cemetery in Vatican City to pray on All Souls’ Day Monday and offered Mass for the faithful departed.

“‘Hope does not disappoint,’ St. Paul tells us. Hope attracts us and gives meaning to life …  hope is a gift from God that draws us towards life, towards eternal joy. Hope is an anchor that we have on the other side,” Pope Francis said in his homily Nov. 2.

The pope offered Mass for the souls of the faithful departed at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City. Afterwards, he paused to pray at the tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery and then visited the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica to spend a moment in prayer for the souls of the deceased popes who are buried there.

Pope Francis prayed for all the dead in the prayers of the faithful at Mass, including “the dead without face, without voice, and without name, so that God the Father may welcome them into eternal peace, where there is no longer either anxiety or pain.”

In his off-the-cuff homily, the pope said: “This is the goal of hope: to go to Jesus.”

On All Souls’ Day and throughout the month of November, the Church makes a special effort to remember, honor and pray for the dead. There are many different cultural traditions around this period, but one of the most consistently honored is the practice of visiting cemeteries.

The Teutonic Cemetery, located next to St. Peter’s Basilica, is the burial place of people of German, Austrian, and Swiss descent, as well as for people from other German-speaking nations, particularly members of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady.

The cemetery is built on the historic site of Nero’s Circus, where early Christians in Rome were martyred, including St. Peter. 

Pope Francis sprinkled the tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery with holy water, pausing to pray at some of the graves, which were adorned with fresh flowers and lit candles for the occasion.

Last year, the pope offered All Souls’ Day Mass in the Catacombs of Priscilla, one of the prominent catacombs of the early Church in Rome. 

In 2018, Pope Francis offered Mass in a cemetery for deceased children and unborn babies called the “Garden of Angels,” located in the Laurentino Cemetery on the outskirts of Rome.

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In his homily, Pope Francis said that one must ask the Lord for the gift of Christian hope.

“Today in thinking of so many brothers and sisters who have died, it will do us good to look at cemeteries … and repeat: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’ … This is the strength that gives us hope, a free gift. May the Lord give it to all of us,” the pope said.

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