His Holiness Pope Francis led the Filipino Catholic Community in Rome in celebrating the 5th centenary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in a Mass he presided over at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy on March 14, 2021, at 10 am (5 pm Phil. time).
“Dear brothers and sisters, five hundred years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel: the good news that God so loved us that he gave his Son for us,” Pope Francis said.
“And this joy is evident in your people We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands,” he added.
In his homily, the Supreme Pontiff urged Filipino people especially in Rome “to persevere in the work of evangelization – not proselytism.” He added that “the Gospel message of God’s closeness cries out to be expressed in love for our brothers and sisters”.
“For this reason, he asks the Church to care for those who are hurting and living on the fringes of life. God so loves us that he gives himself to us, and the Church has this same mission,” he said.
Pope Francis was joined in the celebration of the Mass by H. E. Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, D.D., prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former archbishop of Manila, and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s vicar for Rome.
The Mass, attended by the Filipinos dressed in Filipiniana was organized by the Sentro Pilipino Community in Rome headed by its chaplain, Fr. Ricky Gente and Fr. Greg Gaston, rector, Pontificio Collegio Filipino.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Tagle gave a message to Pope Francis, thanking him for joining the Filipino community in Rome to celebrate the historic event.
“The Filipino migrants in Rome want to express our gratitude to you for leading us in this Eucharistic celebration in thanksgiving for the arrival of the Christian faith in the Philippines five hundred years ago,” Cardinal Tagle said.
The Filipino community also offered a painting to the Pope created by Ryan Carreon Aragon. The painting which is part of the Quincetenial Painting Competition shows Magellan offering to Hara Humanay or Doña Juana the image of Sto. Niño after accepting the Christian faith through baptism. (Jheng Prado/RCAM-AOC)