‘I am grateful for your presence, for your fidelity and for the radiant witness to Jesus Christ that you offer to the community.’ With these words Pope Francis joined Midday Prayer in the Monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Antananarivo in Madagascar.
It had to be one of the most joyful experiences of his September 4-10 apostolic journey to Africa, which ended yesterday as he returned back to Roma.
“I thank every one of you, dear Sisters, for leaving the cloister for a moment in order to show your communion with me and with the life and mission of the entire Church, particularly the Church in Madagascar,” Pope Francis said in his address to the sisters. “I am grateful for your presence, for your fidelity and for the radiant witness to Jesus Christ that you offer to the community.
“In this country, there may be poverty, but there is also great richness! For here we find a great treasure of natural, human and spiritual beauty. You too, dear Sisters, share in this beauty of Madagascar, its people, and its Church, for it is the beauty of Christ that lights up your faces and your lives. Indeed, thanks to you, the Church in Madagascar is all the more beautiful in the Lord’s eyes and in the eyes of the whole world as well.”
The Holy Father presented a gift to the monastery, a representation of “Our Lady of Purity” that is an original work by the Sicilian sculptor Biagio Governali, who produced it in bronze in his workshop in Corleone, near Palermo, using the “lost wax” technique.
The composition is dominated by the imposing figure of the Virgin Mary who, with a tender and encompassing embrace holds the Child close to her, while with her right hand she hands Him a dove, symbol of “purity”. Indeed, in the Sacred Scripture, the dove is a symbol with multiple meanings, but first and foremost it is the sign of the Spirit of God that Spirit that hovered above creation from the beginning of the world and which descended on the Son on the day of His baptism.