Pope Francis returned to Rome on Saturday with 12 Syrian refugees whom he took back with him on the plane at the end of his six-hour visit to Lesbos. Upon arrival, he made his customary visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, praying for a short while before the Marian icon Salus populi Romani.
The Greek island of Lesbos is on the frontline in receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing conflict and poverty and during his visit the Pope implored Europe to treat refugees with dignity.
The Pope was accompanied on his trip to Lesbos by the Orthodox leader, the Ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos II.
During their visit, the three spiritual leaders signed a joint declaration calling on the international community to make the protection of human lives a priority and to extend temporary asylum to those in need. Earlier they toured the Moria refugee camp where many of the refugees fell to their knees and wept at the Pope’s feet as the three spiritual leaders toured the camp and met its inmates.
Pope Francis during his encounter with civil authorities and the Catholic Community at the Port of Lesbos prayed for all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life.
He was joined by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymus II who also prayed for all those in difficult circumstances.
Following the prayers the three religious leaders dropped flowers into the waters off the port of Lesbos to remember the victims.
Find below the English translation of the Pope’s prayer at the port of Lesbos:
Merciful God,we pray to you for all the men, women and children
who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life.
Though many of their graves bear no name,
to you each one is known, loved and cherished.
May we never forget them, but honour their sacrifice
with deeds more than words.
We entrust to you all those who have made this journey,
enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation,
in order to reach a place of safety and hope.
Just as you never abandoned your Son
as he was brought to a safe place by Mary and Joseph,
so now be close to these, your sons and daughters,
through our tenderness and protection.
In caring for them may we seek a world
where none are forced to leave their home
and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace.
Merciful God and Father of all,
wake us from the slumber of indifference,
open our eyes to their suffering,
and free us from the insensitivity
born of worldly comfort and self-centredness.
Inspire us, as nations, communities and individuals,
to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters.
May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand,
and recognize that together, as one human family,
we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home,
where every tear will be wiped away,
where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.
Find below the prayer of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople
Lord of mercy, compassion and all comfort, we pray to You for our brothers in difficult circumstances and we offer to Your Goodness:
Nurture the infants; instruct the youth; strengthen the aged; give courage to the faint hearted; reunite those separated; sail with those who sail; travel with those who travel; defend the widows; protect the orphans; liberate the captives; heal the sick. Remember, O God, those who are in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and those in every kind of affliction, necessity, or distress; and all those who entreat Your loving kindness; those who love us and those who hate us; and pour out upon all Your rich mercy, granting them their petitions for salvation
Again we pray, Lord of life and of death, grant eternal repose to the souls of Your departed servants, those who lost their lives during their exodus from war-torn regions and during their journeys to places of safety, peace and prosperity.
For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, the savior of the afflicted, the haven of the voyager, and the physician of the sick. Be all things to all, You who know each person, his requests, his household, and his need. Deliver this island, O Lord, and every city and country, from famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, sword, invasion of foreign enemies, and civil war. Amen.
Find below the prayer of Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymus II
O God of all spirits and flesh, Who has trodden down death, destroying the power of the devil, bestowing life on Your world to the soul of Your servants departed this life, do You Yourself, O Lord, give rest in a place of light, in a place of green pasture, in a place of refreshment, from where pain and sorrow and mourning are fled away. Every sin by them committed in thought, word, or deed, do You as our good and loving God forgive, seeing that there is no man that shall live and sin not, for You alone are without sin: Your righteousness, and Your law is truth.
For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Your servants, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up Glory, as to Your Eternal Father and Your All-Holy, Good, and Life-creating Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Source: Vatican Radio