"In this sacred place where thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world come each day, there must be a stable community of prayer," Pope Benedict said.
Archbishop Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica, told the pope that since the sixth century there always has been a group of clergy assigned to pray at the tomb of St. Peter, The Catholic News Service reported.
Pope Benedict said that in recent years the chapter has rediscovered its original purpose, "consisting, first of all, of the ministry of prayer."
"If prayer if fundamental for all Christians, for you, dear brothers, it can be said to be a professional obligation."
Pope Benedict told the priests that prayer is service to the Lord, who always deserves to be praised and adored and, at the same time, it is a witness before other men and women.
"The mission of the chapter is to recall, with your prayerful presence at the tomb of Peter, that nothing comes before God; that the church is entirely oriented toward him, toward his glory; (and) that the primacy of Peter is at the service of the unity of the church, which is at the service of the Holy Trinity's plan for salvation."
Prayerful presence in St. Peter's Basilica is reminder of its purpose, October 8, 2007
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