In a letter sent to the Alfa y Omega Spanish Catholic weekly, Pope Francis recalls his youth, the times of the 1950’s, when he and his brother regularly participated in the overnight prayers held at the Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I’ve been very much touched by receiving a photocopy of the book kept in the archives of the Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament in Buenos Aires, containing the participants’ name of the nocturnal Eucharistic adorations, a tradition that has been going on in the Basilica since 1917. We prayed throughout the night in hourly turns, starting from 9.00 p.m.” – explained Pope Francis in his letter sent to the Alfa y Omega Spanish Catholic weekly. The name of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, along with that of his brother’s Oscar, are also appearing in the registry. They both were experiencing these crucial moments all along the years of 1954 and 1955 under the guidance of their confessor, Father José Artisti, who has always been considered by the future Pope as the role model of a merciful priest.
In 1996 Bergoglio was the auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. This year on the Vigil of Easter Father Aristi passed away. Before the funeral Bergoglio went to pay his last respects to his late confessor in the crypt of the Basilica, where the priest’s body was laid. He placed his flowers onto the coffin, when he suddenly felt a sort of urge. “I touched the small crucifix attached to the Rosary in the Father’s hand, and pulled it off. I looked at Father Aristi and told him: ‘Please give me the half of your mercy.’ I truly felt a strong inner stirring that gave me the courage to do this step.” - recalls the Pontiff in his letter. Father Andrés was the one and only eyewitness of this scene – adds the weekly newspaper, quoting the father: “I remember Bergoglio saying - ‘He was my confessor, and he had absolved so many people from their sins whilst holding this Rosary in his hands. He just cannot be buried with it’.”
The weekly periodical recalls an anecdote, shared by Diego Vidal, a lay coordinator of the Basilica’s night time Eucharistic adorations. “One day, far away from Buenos Aires at an Eucharistic Congress, Bergoglio, the then Archbishop happened to pass by me. I asked him whether he knew Father Aristi. He stopped immediately: How can’t I not know him? And he pulled out the Father’s Rosary from his dress.” Over the years from that very moment in the crypt, the Archbishop, later on Cardinal, nowadays the Pontiff is inseparable from Father Aristi’s Rosary Cross. “I have put it here, into my ‘pocket’ – wrote the Pope. “Since the pope’s shirts do not have real pockets, I put it into a small canvas bag that I’m always carrying under my cassock, and whenever I place my hands on it, I do feel the grace! What a perfect example of a merciful priest, of a priest who draws close to the wounds and does so much good.”
Source: Ágnes Gedő/Alessandro De Carolis and Benedetta Capelli – Vatican Radio
Photo: Vatican Radio