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Pope Francis: Graves of war dead cry a message of peace

The Pope celebrates Mass at the French Military Cemetery in Rome, on the feast of All Souls. In his homily, he tells the faithful to look at the graves of the fallen which speak of a message of peace, saying “Stop, brothers and sisters, stop. Stop, weapons manufacturers”.

By Vatican News staff reporter

In an unscripted homily during the celebration of Holy Mass on the feast of All Souls, Tuesday, Pope Francis recalled an inscription on the door of a small cemetery which read: “You who are walking, think about your steps, and of your steps think about the last step.”  The Pope told those gathered at the French Military Cemetery in Rome that, “life is a journey” which we are all on.

On that journey, he noted, “we pass many historical events, many difficult situations.” “We will all have a last step,” said the Pope, “the important thing is that the last step finds us on our way, not walking around  but on the path of life and not in an endless labyrinth.”  

“Look at the graves”

The Pope then turned his attention to the graves in cemeteries that are the final resting place of war dead.

“These people - good people - died in the war, they died because they were called upon to defend their country, to defend values, to defend ideals and many other times, to defend sad and lamentable political situations,” he said.

“I think of Anzio, of Redipuglia, I think of the Piave, in '[19]14; so many were left there. I think of Normandy beach;  40,000 in that landing. But it doesn't matter, they fell.”

A white rose is laid on one of the graves
A white rose is laid on one of the graves

The unknown soldier

During his visit to this cemetery on Tuesday, Pope Francis told those present that he stopped at a grave that had no name but read “Died for France, 1944.”

This grave, said the Pope, may not have had a name, which is a tragedy of war, but “in God's heart is the name of all of us.”

“I am sure that all those who went in goodwill, called by the Fatherland to defend it, are with the Lord,” the Pope commented. “But do we, who are on the road, fight sufficiently so that there are no wars? So that the economies of countries are not fortified by the arms industry?”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said his homily should have the title "look at the graves".  These graves of the fallen, many of which have no names, are messages of peace, emphasized the Pope.  They are, he underlined, messages that say “Stop, brothers and sisters, stop. Stop, weapons manufacturers”.  

One of the graves in the French Military Cemetery in Rome
One of the graves in the French Military Cemetery in Rome
02 November 2021, 12:14