Pope Francis Blessed Ukrainian Soldiers
May 26, 2016
Just prior to the general weekly Papal Audience of Wednesday 25 May 2016, as Holy Father Pope Francis was doing the now famous cruise-about in St. Peter’s Square, he approached a group of Ukrainian soldiers before ascending the stairs to the audience stage.
Pope Francis briefly greeted the soldiers, who stopped in Rome after their pilgrimage to Lourdes. Holy Father approached the group of Ukrainian soldiers, greeted and blessed them. Among the soldiers were some that had incurred battle wounds during their military service in the ATO zone (the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Ukraine’s Donbas region where Russia has been providing weapons and troops in a bloody war that has claimed 10,000 lives in the last two years).
The soldiers were participants of the 48th international military pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Lourdes, France that took place May 20-22, 2016. This year’s theme was “The Doors are Always Open” - the leitmotif being: God’s Mercy – as this is the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Military servicemen from various countries of the world participate in the annual pilgrimage to pray for peace. It was in 1996 that military personnel and law officers from Ukraine first started joining in. It became a tradition that after the pilgrimage to Lourdes, the soldiers from Ukraine would make the trip to Rome to meet the Pope.
Pope Francis blessed Ukrainian soldiers, who visited Lourdes for military pilgrimage.