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Pope Asks French Not to Forget Victims of Terrorism and Hatred


After celebrating a morning mass in Paris, Pope Benedict on Saturday traveled to the shrine at Lourdes in the southwest of France where he visited the Grotto of the Apparitions. He prayed in the shrine town and asked the world not to forget the victims of terrorism and hatred. Sabina Castelfranco has this report for VOA from Paris.

Pope Benedict arrived in the southwestern town of Lourdes on the second day of his visit to France after earlier celebrating an outdoor mass for more than 250,000 people in Paris. He came to Lourdes just like more than six-million pilgrims do every year and visited the Grotto of the Apparitions.

In this grotto 150 years ago, the Virgin Mary appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl who became known as Saint Bernadette. The pope drank a glass of water from the cool underground spring she discovered there and lit a large candle.

Despite the rain, the faithful had waited for hours for the pope's arrival and lined the streets of Lourdes. He waved at them as he was driven in his pope-mobile. Soon after his arrival in the shrine town, the pontiff visited the church where Saint Bernadette was baptized and her one-room home where she lived with her poor family before going to the grotto where she had her visions.

The Pope said that here in Lourdes the Virgin Mary showed herself to Bernadette saddened by our sins, but radiant of her light. Through her, Benedict added, we entrust you all of our joys and pains, those of the sick and those of the whole of humanity. Then the Pope prayed.

Later, at the end of a candlelight procession around the grounds of the sanctuary, Pope Benedict told thousands who had gathered to hear him not to forget those suffering in the world.

Pope Benedict payed tribute to people he called innocent victims who suffer from violence, war, terrorism and famine and those who bear the consequences of injustices, scourges and disasters, hatred and oppression and those who suffer attacks on their human dignity and fundamental rights and the victims of attacks on the freedom to act and think.

Pope Benedict was scheduled to celebrate a mass on Sunday to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions in Lourdes.

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