You are the ‘now of God’, pope tells wearied, but hopeful pilgrimsJanuary 27, 2019
Memory and 'creative fidelity' can renew Panamanian clergy, consecrated religious and laity, Pope says at Mass in renovated Panama cathedral basilica
PANAMA CITY -- Before celebrating Mass at the newly restored Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua, Pope Francis visited her shrine inside the church and placed a golden rose in? Mary's hand.
Dozens of cardinals, bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and lay movements joined the Holy Father for Mass, which saw the dedication of the cathedral basilica's restored altar.
In his homily, the pope applauded the efforts by those involved restoring the cathedral basilica.
In message, particularly to the priests, religious, and consecrated laity in Panama, the pope encouraged them despite being part of a "Church wounded by sin."
This "creative fidelity" recalls the faithful who heard the Lord's call, became "saints next door," and found religious and lay communities, an act of God that the pope called a "fresh breath to a particular moment of history when all hope and dignity seemed to be stifled and crushed."
Pope Francis said that those with a "wearied hope will be healed" when they are "unafraid to return to the place of its first love," in which the same "song [and] gaze" inspired all those who went before.
Closing his homily, the pope said the revitalized cathedral basilica was now "once more a place of peace" that can encourage the faithful to "renew and nurture" hope and show how "yesterday’s beauty becomes a basis for creating the beauty of tomorrow.
Following his homily, Pope Francis placed several relics into the altar, including those of St. Rose of Lima, St. Óscar Romero, St. Martin de Porres, and St. John Paul II.
After the prayer of dedication, the pope poured chrism oil over the altar and used his hand to rub the blessed oil into the altar. The altar features a sculpture of a pelican wounding its own side in order to feed its young, a traditional symbol of Christian self-sacrifice (Christ's sacrifice? ).
During the sign of peace, in act of ecumenism, the pope greeted several interfaith church leaders and other civic dignitaries including the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela.
According to officials, the original image of Santa Maria la Antigua came from the Cathedral of Seville by Spanish conquerors(conquistadors?) in 1510. Santa Maria la Antigua was named the patroness of Panama in 2001, and her feast day is Sept. 9.
The church, with initial 1608 construction (sounds a little weird...) completed in 1716, was designated a minor basilica by the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the request of the Panamanian Bishops' Conference. It is the first cathedral of mainland America.
Outside, high above the crowds outside the cathedral basilica, the bell towers rang loudly to celebrate its dedication.