During the Vespers held in the Vatican Basilica on New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis gave thanks for the year 2023. After the liturgy, he went to St. Peter’s Square, where he saw the nativity scene and greeted several hundred people waiting for him there.
Pope Francis he presided over the traditional Vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica on the last day of the year. In his homily, he expressed his desire to make Rome “more livable” and more hospitable. He also talked about preparations for the Holy Year 2025. Francis emphasized that faith allows us to experience the last moments of the year in a way different from the “worldly mentality.” He described this Christian attitude in two words: gratitude and hope.
– Someone might say: “But isn’t this what everyone does on this last evening of the year? Everyone gives thanks, everyone hopes, believers and non-believers. It may seem like this,” the pope said. – But in reality – he added – gratitude and hope under the sign of worldliness are only apparent.
According to Francis, they lack an “essential dimension”, which is relationships with others – “with God and with brothers.” – They are flattened to the “I”, to their own interests and therefore have a short breath, they do not go beyond satisfaction and optimism – he explained. Meanwhile, he continued, during this liturgy, he explained, which culminated in the hymn “Te Deum laudamus”, “one breathes a completely different atmosphere: of praise, amazement, recognition.”
“Is Rome preparing to be a city of hope in the Holy Year?”
Francis noted that the Church learns gratitude and hope from Our Lady. He recalled that 2025 will be a Holy Year, celebrated under the slogan “Pilgrims of Hope”.
– Dear brothers and sisters, we can ask ourselves: is Rome preparing to be a city of hope in the Holy Year? – he said. He expressed his belief that, rather than the actual preparations already underway in the city, it is primarily about the testimony of the church and civic community and lifestyle. – So the following question can be asked: do we, each in our own environment, work towards making this city a sign of hope for those who live in it and who visit it? – said the pope.
Among other things, he drew attention to the historical center and demanded that it be accessible also to older people and people with motor disabilities. – This “great beauty” must be accompanied by the dignified appearance and normal functionality of places and situations of ordinary life, because a city in which its citizens live well is also more hospitable to everyone, Francis said. This is how he referred to everyday problems and difficulties in the capital Italian.
The Pope emphasized that the next year of preparations for the Great Jubilee 2025 will be dedicated to prayer. He encouraged us to entrust our joys and pain, satisfactions and problems to Jesus in prayer. – All with gratitude and hope – he added.
6,500 people attended vespers in the basilica.
Meeting with the faithful
After the end of the liturgy, the Pope went to St. Peter’s Square, where he looked for a long time at the nativity scene, which this year is a gift from the Italian diocese of Rieti. It refers to the 800th anniversary of the first nativity scene, which was created in the nearby town of Greccio on the initiative of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The Pope in a wheelchair greeted and blessed people who came to St. Peter’s Square. He was smiling and in good shape, stopping to bless little children. Those present greeted him and expressed their best wishes.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA