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Pope Francis is hugged by a girl during his visit to "The Little Prince" children's home in Puerto Maldonado Pope Francis is hugged by a girl during his visit to "The Little Prince" children's home in Puerto Maldonado  (AFP or licensors)

Pope to Peruvian children: ‘Be little stars that light up the night’

Speaking at a home for children without families in the Peruvian city of Puerto Maldonado, Pope Francis says young people are a reflection of the Child Jesus and invites them to be a “light of hope” for the world.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis held a moving encounter on Friday with Peruvian children without families at “The Little Prince” Home where they live in Puerto Maldonado.

Be “little stars that light up the night”, the Pope told them, taking his cue from the story whose title inspired the home’s name.

‘Light of hope’

The Holy Father invited the children who had passed through “The Little Prince” Home to be a light of hope for those who live there now.

“What a wonderful witness is offered by all of you young people who have travelled this road, who found love in this home and now are able to shape your own future!” He said their example as positive role models is the best witness for the children who reside in the home, inviting them to visit as often as possible.

‘Reflection of Jesus’

Pope Francis told the children that they are the Child Jesus’ reflection.

“He is our treasure. You children are his reflection, and you too are a treasure for all of us, the most precious treasure that we have, and one that we are called to guard.”

Pope visits children at 'Hogar Principito'

Then he asked their forgiveness for the “times when we adults have not cared for you”. The Holy Father said it makes him happy to see that the children have a home and people who help them see that God “puts dreams in your heart.”

‘Study and be authentic’

Pope Francis also invited the children, some of whom are from indigenous communities, to study and to take advantage of educational opportunities. “The world needs you, young men and women of the first peoples, and it needs you as you are.”

He invited them to get in touch with their roots but not to curb their curiosity. “[B]ring the old and the new together in your own way. Share what you learn with the world,” he said.

‘Stars that light up the night’

Finally, the Pope thanked the Home’s director, Fr. Xavier, and all who offer their time to give the children a better life.

“And thank you,” he said, “for being the little stars that light up the night.”

19 January 2018, 20:01