Pope in Greccio: May Baby Jesus smile

Pope Francis visits the first Nativity Crib at Greccio, Italy

“May His smile, which blossomed in the night, dispel indifference and open hearts to the joy of one who feels loved by the Father who is in Heaven.”

Pope Francis stressed this in Greccio, at the site of the first Nativity Scene, first instituted by St. Francis of Assisi.

The Holy Father had made a brief reflection in which he called on faithful to be like Mary and to let Jesus transform us and our ways of thinking…

“Let us identify ourselves with Mary, who places her Son in the manger, because there was no room in a house,” Francis said, noting: “With Her and with Saint Joseph, her husband, we have our gaze turned to the Child Jesus.”

“May His smile, which blossomed in the night, dispel indifference and open hearts to the joy of one who feels loved by the Father who is in Heaven.”

In this simple and wonderful sign of the Nativity Scene, Francis said, “the great mystery is manifested of our faith: God loves us to such a point as to share our humanity and our life.”

Never alone

“He never leaves us alone,” the Roman Pontiff said, stressing: “He accompanies us with His hidden presence, but not invisible. In every circumstance, in joy as in sorrow, He is the Emmanuel, God with us.”

As the shepherds of Bethlehem, the Holy Father said, we accept the invitation to go to the grotto, to see Him and be filled with joy.

Pope Francis went by helicopter from the Vatican’s heliport to visit the Franciscan Shrine of Greccio, in the diocese of Rieti. The helicopter, with Pope Francis on board, landed at 3:40 pm in the Square below the Franciscan Shrine. Before going by car to the Shrine, the Holy Father greeted a few sick and disabled, accompanied by their families, who were waiting for him in the Square.

The Bishop of Rieti, Monsignor Domenico Pompili; the Guardian of the Franciscan Shrine, Father Francesco Rossi, and the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, welcomed the Pope on his arrival. Then the Holy Father went to the Shrine’s grotto where, after a moment of prayer, he signed the Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum on the meaning and value of the Nativity Scene, and was entertained with the Friars and Sisters present in the grotto.

Subsequently, after greeting the primary school’s children’s choir, who sang a song from the musical “Come Ye People,” which recounts the life of Saint Francis, and some figures of the Representation of the history of the living Nativity Scene, in traditional garments in the Shrine’s church, the Pope presided over the Celebration of the Word.