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Pope Francis travels by boat to the Basilica of St Mary of Health in Venice on Sunday to meet with young people (CNS/Lola Gomez)

Pope Francis went to Venice for a brief, but intense visit with women prisoners, artists, young people and thousands of faithful from this northern Italian region bordering the Adriatic Sea. Source: CNS.

The Pope’s early morning touchdown by helicopter from Rome on Sunday brought him first to a women’s prison, then by wooden motorboat to the Basilica of St Mary of Health, a 17th-century church built to honour Mary, invoking her protection and intercession to end a devastating plague that killed nearly one-third of the population in the 1630s. 

About 1500 young people were in front of the basilica singing and cheering to greet the Pope as he arrived waving from the boat decorated with a small Vatican flag. 

“Arise and go!” he told them. “Open your heart to God, thank him and embrace the beauty that you are; fall in love with your life. 

“Walk together with others, colour the world with your creativity and paint the streets of life with the Gospel,” he said.

No one is ugly, and everyone carries a priceless treasure inside that is meant to be shared with others, he said. “This is not self-esteem, it is reality! Recognising this is the first step we should take in the morning when we wake up: get out of bed and accept yourself as a gift. 

“Remember that for God, you are not a digital profile,” he said, but “a child of heaven.”

But, just like Venice, the Pope said, people are beautiful and fragile at the same time. Take care of these fragilities and recognise that God always extends a hand, not to blame or punish, but to heal and lift people back up.

More than 10,000 people packed St Mark’s Square for Mass and to pray the Regina Coeli. 

After Mass and the Regina Coeli prayer, the Pope greeted the faithful in the square and went into St Mark’s Basilica to venerate the relics of St Mark the Evangelist before returning to Rome by helicopter. 


Like Venice, people are beautiful, fragile, Pope says in city built on water (By Carol Glatz, CNS)