(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted the Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of Milan at the beginning of his one-day pastoral visit to the city.
Upon his arrival, residents gave the Holy Father two gifts: a priestly stole and a picture of a statuette of the Madonna.
Pope Francis thanked them for their gifts and said it was important for him to be welcomed to Milan by a community of families.
He said the stole was a reminder that he comes “as a priest: I come to Milan as a priest”.
He also recognized that it had been handmade by several residents of the Forlanini quarter: “It’s a reminder that the Christian priest is chosen from among the people and at the service of the people. My priesthood…is a gift from Christ, but it is ‘woven’ by you, by our people with their faith, labours, prayers, and tears.”
Pope Francis then said the statuette of Our Lady is a sign of his being welcomed to Milan by the Madonna.
“It reminds me of Mary’s care, who ran to meet Elizabeth. This is the care and concern of the Church, which does not remain in the city centre waiting but comes to meet all at the peripheries; she goes also to meet non-Christians and non-believers…; and she brings Jesus to all, he who is the love of God made flesh and gives meaning to our lives and saves us from evil.”
Afterwards, the Holy Father made his way to Milan’s Duomo Cathedral to meet with priests and consecrated men and women.