January 22nd, 2018
THE POPE AT THE SHRINE OF ST ALBERTO HURTADO SJ
The Jesuits of Santiago were delighted to welcome Pope Francis to the Shrine of St Alberto Hurtado during the papal visit to Chile and Peru last week.
Alberto Hurtado was a Jesuit saint of the twentieth century beloved and revered across Chile for his dedication to the fight for justice for the poor and marginalized.
On his arrival at the Shrine, which also houses a museum of the life of the saint, the pope was asked to bless the famous “green van” which Alberto Hurtado used in his ministry. 120 fellow Jesuits were assembled at the Shrine chapel to greet Pope Francis and to pray with him first in silence and then in song at the tomb of the saint. There followed a dialogue described by Fr Jorge Munoz SJ: “he invited us to unleash a fire which would allow us to burn with love for the most vulnerable, to move our appraoch from offering help to changing the unjust systems. He also thanked the Society of Jesus for all its collaboration during his pontificate, and asked us to focus on discernment in these uncertain times”.
The Jesuits gave Pope Francis two gifts. The first was a crucifix which had belonged to St Alberto Hurtado. The second was a “House History”- a reminder of the time the pope spent as a member of a Jesuit community in Santiago, presented by two Jesuits who had lived with him during that time.
After spending time with the Jesuits Pope Francis was invited to meet 400 people from marginalised groups in Chile. They included disabled people, migrants and refugees, elderly people and others suffering from poverty and disadvantage. 28 representatives joined him on the platform, and a local resident Lilian Lopez, spoke for everyone. In the final moments of the encounter the pope shared a “sopaipilla”, a traditional Chilean bread roll, with the crowds. Fr Munoz observed “that sopaipilla was like a bridge, an embrace, an outstretched hand. In the hands of the pope it was a sign of a shared life for all, including the poorest”. The pope blessed the bread with the words “May the Lord bless the heart of all of us, and that which we share, teach us also to share life and heaven.”
This article was published in Jesuits in Britain on the 22 January. To read the complete article press here