The Ukrainian flag signed by children as a gift to the Pope

At the end of the general audience, a group of young people who have found hospitality in the House for spiritual retreats in Lipinki, Poland, gave the Pope the blue and yellow flag with their signatures and the inscriptions of words of peace for their people and of gratitude to the Pope. In the morning, Francis received a group of people on the occasion of the screening of the film on Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

by Giampaolo Mattei and Fabrizio Peloni

It is not “just” a Ukrainian flag: to give even more value to that symbolic piece of yellow and blue cloth there are the signatures of children who wrote words of peace for their people and words of gratitude to the Pope that peace invoked again this morning in St. Peter’s Square. On what is “more” than a flag are the 19 names and surnames of the children and their mothers, fleeing the hell of the missiles fired on Ukraine, who have found hospitality in the House for spiritual retreats in Lipinki, in the diocese Polish Rzeszów.

The “children’s flag” was presented to the Pope this morning – during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square – by Fr Rafał Brej, director of the Lipinki Center. Alongside was Fr Tri Tang Pham, parish priest of the Holy Family in Port St. Lucie, in the US diocese of Palm Beach, who, with his Ukrainian-born parishioners, made a solidarity journey among the refugees on the Polish border. Fr Brej recounts: «Since the beginning of the war our Center, which operates in the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lipinki, has continuously welcomed Ukrainian refugees. At the moment there are 19 people: mothers with their children”.

And it was the children, the priest points out, who thought of a “gift for Francis”: a Ukrainian flag with their signatures, their dedications. And “this morning I presented the ‘children’s flag’ to the Pope, thanking him for his commitment to peace”. For his part, the Pontiff encouraged the real “volunteer network” which also involves the parishes of the Transfiguration in Kamienica, in the diocese of Tarnów, and in Ukraine the parish community of Sadogóra, near Chernivtsi. Fr Tri Tang Pham, Vietnamese, came expressly from the United States of America “to meet the Pope with some parishioners of Ukrainian origin”. With the Caritas of the archdiocese of Lublin and the Center of Lipinki, they have carried out some very concrete projects for refugees, especially for the small remaining organs and families who no longer have a home.

In Rome a concert for the hospital in Kiev

In St. Peter’s Square, the presence of Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish artists who will perform this evening at the Auditorium della Conciliazione in the show “Together – Concert for Peace”, as part of the seventh edition of the Festival of Psalms in David. The initiative, organized by the Polish National Remembrance Institute, the Ulma soar Family Foundation, together with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Rome, is promoted to support the National Children’s Hospital of Kiev. And precisely to the Polish Ulma family – explains the postulator Fr Witold Burda – an exhibition set up in the Auditorium is dedicated: Józef, Wiktoria and their seven children (one still in the womb) were executed on 24 March 1944 for having offered refuge to eight Jews. The artists – in particular the Ukrainian band “Kalush Orchestra” which won the Eurovision song contest 2022 – were accompanied by Monsignor Adam Szal, archbishop of Przemyśl of the Latins, a territory in southeastern Poland right on the border with Ukraine, in front line in welcoming refugees from a country at war, and 140 kilometers from Przewodów, the Polish village under the eyes of the world since yesterday evening.

Remembering Naomi

She returned to Pope Francis to remember Naomi Cabral, the transsexual found dead on October 6 in a hotel room on the Roman coast: for Claudia Victoria Salas this morning the meeting with the Pope was above all an act in memory of Noemi. Also present were Sister Geneviève Jeanningros, the religious of the Little Sisters of Jesus, and Fr Andrea Conocchia, parish priest of the Blessed Virgin Immaculate in Torvaianica, who are accompanying some transsexual people and people on the margins of social life to meet Pope Francis during the general audiences.

On pilgrimage from Haiti and Romania

To bring the voice of pain but, above all, of hope of the people of Haiti, 19 pilgrims from the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the capital Port-au-Prince, led by the parish priest, Father Han’s Alexandre, were present at the audience. They are all part of the Réseau du Coeur association. “The earthquake of January 12, 2010 completely destroyed our church and although there is a lack of funds for reconstruction – the parish priest said – our hope for tomorrow is stronger than any poverty or insecurity and leads us, as Pope Francis taught us in Fratelli tutti, to open ourselves to love and service to others”. From the archdiocese of Bucharest, 14 priests have arrived on a pilgrimage of fraternity to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their ordination.

In the footsteps of St. Francis

The Pope encouraged the mission of the religious of the Third Regular Order of St. Francis to Rome for the plenary council (in the general curia at the basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano from 14 to 19 November) to discuss the theme of formation in all phases of religious life. “The superiors of all the provinces are here,” said the general minister, Father Amando Trujillo Cano.

The charism of “saving children from hunger and the streets”

“Saving children from hunger and the street”: with this very concrete charism, Father Arturo D’Onofrio founded the Congregation of the Little Apostles of Redemption on October 3, 1949, with Mother Anna Vitiello. The 38 sisters who are taking part in the ninth general chapter, which began on October 24 and will end today, were present at the audience to present the relevance of this mission to the Pope. The target? May the face of the congregation “shine the image of Christ poor, humble and dedicated to the service of men, especially of orphaned and abandoned children” says the superior general, mother Nunzia Gentilcore. “Priest of the diocese of Tortona – he says – Father D’Onofrio at Christmas 1943 felt called to this evangelical mission which he had been experiencing for some time with clear inner awareness”.

A mission that began in the district of Visciano (Naples), the birthplace of Father D’Onofrio who welcomed the children into their father’s house. And on November 6, 1949, “Il Villaggio del fanciullo” was inaugurated, the first institution that housed children who were victims of war and hunger. This institute is today, significantly, the mother house of the congregation, approved at the diocesan level in 1962 and since 1978 with pontifical recognition. “We are a small congregation – says the superior general – which has just over 300 religious, present in Italy, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Honduras, India, East Timor and Madagascar”.

With the community of the College of Anagni

Lessons suspended today for the community of the Pontificio Collegio Leoniano in Anagni. Accompanied by some bishops from Lazio, the students, professors, nuns and employees (with their families) were in the square to meet the Pope. «A real pilgrimage on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the erection of the regional Seminary, continued – says the rector don Emanuele Giannone – with participation in mass in the Vatican basilica, to bear witness to and renew love and service for the Pope and for the Church”.

Those retired firefighters volunteering on the front lines

They are the first to snap up and respond “present” when there are natural disasters, above all earthquakes: they are “the four hundred former firefighters who, although retired, continue to provide their voluntary service throughout Italy, especially when qualified interventions are required experience and professionalism. This was stated by Carlo Attanasio, regional manager for Abruzzo of the Association of the National Fire Brigade. “Uniting ourselves in prayer with the Pope – he adds – made us reflect on the importance of our work in entrusting all our colleagues, who are engaged in rescue operations every day, to the protective gaze of Mary”.

The Pope also addressed an encouragement to the leaders of the “I Bindun” association which for 40 years has been organizing solidarity initiatives for the poorest, especially children. The idea was born among some Inter fans, so much so that this morning the former players Giuseppe Baresi and Giuseppe Bergomi were also at the hearing. To relaunch interreligious dialogue, the Japanese Shinto leader Mitsuo Miyake was present in St. Peter’s Square.

A film about the martyrdom of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

Before the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pontiff received – in the Hall of Paul VI Hall – a group of people on the occasion of the screening of the film (scheduled for this afternoon in the Synod Hall) on the life and martyrdom of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest. Also present with Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the clergy, were the rector of the sanctuary of the holy martyrs that the Pope visited in August 2014. And the little girl, now a girl, who offered Francis, in that occasion, a silver rose. Arriving in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope had five children from San Martino di Castrozza get into the jeep – among them a little girl with Down’s syndrome – for the “tour” to greet the pilgrims closely.

The Ukrainian flag signed by children as a gift to the Pope – Vatican News