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Pope thanks Virgin Mary for protection during pilgrimage to Canada

Pope thanks Virgin Mary for protection during pilgrimage to Canada

Pope Francis returns to Rome at the conclusion of his Apostolic Journey to Canada, and makes a stop at St. Mary Major to thank God for blessing his ‘penitential pilgrimage’.

By Devin Watkins

As per tradition, the Pope made a brief stop at the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Saturday morning upon his return to Rome at the end of his Apostolic Journey to Canada.

Pope Francis laid a bouquet of flowers on the altar beneath the ancient Marian icon Salus Populi Romani.

He prayed for a few moments to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for her protection during his six-day ‘penitential pilgrimage’ to the North American nation, according to the Holy See Press Office.

The Pope then returned to his residence in the Vatican for some much-needed rest.

Sorrow over residential schools

His 24-29 July visit to Canada shone the spotlight on the need for reconciliation and healing for indigenous peoples, especially in the wake of some Catholics’ involvement in the residential school system.

Pope Francis apologized for the “evil committed by so many Christians against the indigenous peoples.”

“I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples. I am sorry. I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the Church and of religious communities cooperated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.”

The Pope repeatedly expressed his sorrow and wrapped up his visit to Canada expressing the hope that his visit might advance the “search for truth” to help in healing and reconciliation.

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