Pope Francis’ 34th Apostolic Journey came to a close on Wednesday with the celebration of the Holy Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Šaštín, after which he left for the Bratislava International Airport from where he left for Rome.
During this 4-day Apostolic Visit abroad, Pope Francis visited Budapest, Hungary for the closing Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, before flying to Slovakia.
Pope’s presence brings joy
Reflecting on the Pope’s just-concluded visit to the country, Fr. Martin Kramara, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia (KBS), expressed the joy of the people of Slovakia.
“The Holy Father’s visit to Slovakia has left us with feelings of great joy as well as many beautiful stimuli for reflection,” he said. “The Lord blessed us with wonderful weather and so the Holy Father was able to receive tens of thousands of pilgrims.”
During the visit, Pope Francis visited the three ecclesiastical provinces in Slovakia. The two Latin provinces, Košice and Bratislava, and Prešov, home to the Greek Catholic metropolis of the byzantine rite.
In spite of the complications due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Fr. Kramara notes that some 60,000 faithful were present for the Holy Mass celebrated by the Holy Father at Šaštín.
Encouragement for Church in Slovakia
The Holy Father met with several groups during his Apostolic Visit, including the clergy of Slovakia.
Fr. Kramara recalls that the Pope’s words of encouragement were “very rich,” especially in his address to the bishops, priests and consecrated persons.
He said that the Holy Father urged them “to live a faith that is not rigid, but is in motion.” A faith that “goes out to meet, is prophetic, does not focus on numbers and expression of power, but trusts, even in the little things.”
He added that Pope Francis further encouraged them in their leap of faith, insisting that they “give authentic witness to the Gospel and never fall into selfishness and superficiality.”
“Thank you, Holy Father, thank you so much,” Fr. Kramara said. “And we will not forget to pray for you. Please pray for Slovakia!”