Pope Francis ended his three-day visit to Romania on Sunday afternoon, stating that he leaves “enriched” for taking with him places, moments and especially faces of those he met.
A rainbow appeared on the sky upon take-off of the Pope’s aircraft from the Airport in Sibiu. The heavy rain that hit the county and the entire region has stopped minutes before the arrival of Pope Francis in Sibiu.
The Tarom aircraft that was taking the Pope back to Rome has taken off from Sibiu on Sunday at 17:43 in the pilgrims’ applause. Upon leaving, the Sovereign Pontiff blessed several children present at the airport, receiving flowers from people and taking photos with them.
“I’m going back home enriched, taking with me places and moments, and especially faces. Your faces will give colour to my memories and will be present in my prayer. Thank you and I’ll take you with me! And now I’m blessing you, but first of all I want to ask you a great favour: pray for me!”
On Sunday the Sovereign Pontiff officiated the beatification ceremony of the seven Greek-Catholic martyr bishops tortured and persecuted by the communist regime, a ceremony that took place on Liberty Plain in Blaj.
“Dear brothers and sisters, even today there are new ideologies that emerge, in a subtle way, trying to impose and cut people away from their rich cultural and religious traditions. Ideological Colonization despise the value of the person, of life, marriage or family (…) and damages, through damaging proposals, atheist, the same as in the past, especially our youth and children, leaving them without roots to grow from,” said Pope Francis.
Cardinal Lucian Muresan, Major Archbishop of the Greek-Catholic Church, read the request by which Pope Francis was asked to proclaim the seven martyred bishops as Saints, “for they chose to die instead of denying their Catholic faith.”
The Holy Father agreed with the beatification and proclaimed the martyred bishops as Saints to be celebrated on June 2.
Four of the bishops died in the Sighet and Gherla prisons, Valeriu Traian Frentiu, Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu and Alexandru Rusu. Their tombs remain unknown, as they couldn’t be identified to this day. After they survived the Sighet prison, Vasile Aftenie, Ioan Balan and Iuliu Hossu were buried in the Bellu Cemetery in Bucharest, under the supervision of the Securitate, the communist political police.
President Iohannis and his wife, Carmen Iohannis has also attended the ceremony of beatification in Blaj, likewise PM Dancila and other members of the Cabinet.
The throne where the Pope sat during the religious beatification service was built including with wood originating from the communist prisons from Sighet and Gherla, where the bishops have been tortured and some of them even died.
“We designed a throne for Pope Francis made of pieces of wood and with bars from the communist prisons where the bishops were imprisoned. It is a symbol of the sacrifice brought to the Pope by our church (…) The throne is symbolically containing the suffering of our Church,” said Bishop of the Major Archidiocese of Alba Iulia and Făgăraş, Claudiu Pop.
Apologies to the Roma community
On Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis had a meeting with the Roma community members in Blaj at the Greek-Catholic Church of the “Barbu Lautaru” district.
During his one-hour meeting with the Roma community, Pope Francis gave a sermon to those 3,000 Roma people living in a district in Blaj, offering gifts to those hundreds of children and blessing them.
The Sovereign Pontiff has also made an unexpected gesture, apologizing, in the name of the Church, to the Roma community for being discriminated.
“I still have a weigh on my heart, the weigh of discrimination, of segregation and abuse endured by your communities. History tells us that neither Christians ,not even the Catholics, were stranger to this big evil. For that, I want to apologize to you”, the Pope said.