Pope Francis urged members of a Vatican-based lay association on Saturday to “begin again with more humanity” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “I would like to leave you with some indications for the future, so that your precious service may continue to be a witness to those you meet, in a context that will still feel the effects of the pandemic.”
“I summarize them in this exhortation: ‘Let us begin anew with more humanity, looking to Jesus, with hope in our hearts.’”
The Sts Peter and Paul Association emerged from the Palatine Guard, a military unit established by Pope Pius IX in 1850.
The unit was officially dissolved in 1970. A year later, Pope Paul VI founded the association to enable former guards to continue serving the Holy See on a voluntary basis inspired by the Palatine Guard’s ideals.
According to the association’s statutes, members are Catholics living in Rome who seek to offer “a particular witness of Christian life, apostolate and fidelity to the Apostolic See” through cultural, liturgical, and charitable activities.
Members offer their services, including hospitality and stewarding, in St. Peter’s Basilica and at papal liturgical celebrations.
“Through your daily services you become artisans of encounter, bringing the warmth of Jesus’ kindness to those who enter St. Peter’s Basilica, to those who need direction, to those who need a smile to feel at home,” the pope said.
The association, which answers to the Vatican Secretariat of State, is based in the Apostolic Palace, where the Palatine Guard was formerly located.
The organization’s motto, inherited from the Palatine Guard, is Fide constamus avita (“Let us firmly persevere in keeping with the fidelity of our fathers.”)
In his address, the pope broke down the elements of his exhortation to the group.
Regarding the phrase “let us begin anew,” he said that the association’s motto should guide it in changing times.
He said that restarting “with more humanity” meant focusing on the importance of human relationships.
He added that by “looking to Jesus,” members would be “called more and more to a daily service of welcoming, sharing, fraternal listening, human closeness.”
Finally, he explained, it was essential for believers to have hope in their hearts.
“Let us walk with joy and hope, knowing that the Lord will never cease to support our commitment to good,” he told members of the association, which established a youth section, the Allievi Group, in 2010.
“I say this in a special way to young people: I encourage you to give your energies to those in need, and to become people capable of true and sincere encounters.”