By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis has sent a message to a parish in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, recalling his visit to the church when he was archbishop there.
"I remember my meetings there in those festive days - the blessings of mothers, children, couples asking for a child... a true hymn to the life to come," the Argentinian pope wrote in a handwritten letter to Father Rubén Ceraci, the parish priest of the Church of Saint Raymond Nonnatus.
The Pope, who headed the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires from February 28, 1998, until his election as Pope on March 13, 2013, vividly remembered visiting the parish on the feast of its patron saint, August 31.
Blessings of St. Raymond Nonnatus
"Even today when at the Audiences a couple asks me for a blessing for a son,” the Pope wrote, “I tell them to pray to Saint Raymond Nonnatus.” “And if they are Argentinians, I advise them to visit the shrine of the saint on Via Cervantes."
Raymond Nonnatus was a 13th-century Mercedarian priest from Catalonia, Spanish, who was taken out of the womb of his mother after her death, hence his name ‘Nonnatus” (from “non natus” in Latin, meaning “not born”). Thus, he is the patron saint of childbirth, midwives, children, and pregnant women, as well as priests defending the confidentiality of Confession.
Referring to the Novena to St. Raymond, which begins on Saturday, August 22, Pope Francis wished the faithful of the parish of St. Raymond Nonnatus "a beautiful celebration" despite the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I am sure that grace, peace, health and fertility will be abundant,” the Pope wrote.
The theme of this year’s celebrations is, "Together with Saint Raymond we embrace hope." Each of the nine days of the novena will be marked by a moment of prayer in the evening. The novena will culminate on the feast of the saint, August 31, with an evening Mass by Cardinal Mario Poli of Buenos Aires, the Primate of Argentina.