“The village of François” invites the pope to a holiday in the south

On the morning of Saturday, May 14, Pope Francis received the members of Francis Village, a young French association that brings together families, the elderly, the disabled, or even people from the streets. A meeting full of emotion with the participation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and Bishop Michel Aupetit.

“Come and rest for a few days at The village of Francois In Toulouse. It is the poor and small of France who are asking you for it and who will take good care of you.. During the frescoes of Salle Clémentine, Etienne Villemain, leader of the village of François, honored his reputation as an “enfant terrible” – in the words of Pope Francis – by inviting the Argentine pope to France to relieve his knee. Arriving in a wheelchair, the pope confided with a smile that he was “on guard” against what the Holy Spirit could inspire in the one who had already in 2014 proposed to him the idea of ​​establishing a world day for the poor.

Although he did not respond to the invitation to come to Toulouse, Pope Francis entrusted to his 180 people gathered around him his joy at seeing this “church” field hospital “unfold before his eyes, an expression he has used since the beginning of Because these Franciscan villages are places where one “cares more for those who suffer than to defend one’s own interests,” and where one takes “the risk of news to be more faithful to the gospel.”

Launched in October 2020, the first village of François opened its doors in Sainte Marie du Désert Abbey, near Toulouse. Other places in life that are shared between fragile people, their companions and families should soon open, in Lourdes and near Pau. The Pope welcomed these initiatives and stressed that they helped to rediscover the notion of the village, “a substance of concrete human relations”, where “generations and the concern to respect the creation that surrounds us” coexist.


He also remembered that the first village of François had been opened in a former Trappist monastery. “I see in this an invitation to you to put in the heart of your experience, in addition to a simple and hard-working life, the care and development of your inner life, of your relationship with Jesus Christ, which alone can fill our thirsty hearts.” , he explained in front of the monks of the old convent, who had been invited to this meeting.

A great joy

“It is a great pleasure to be here to see that the village of François is part of the continuity and fertility of our calling. This project clearly reflects the ingenuity of the Holy Spirit,” said the former abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Sainte Marie du désert. is always touching to find the Holy Father, this pope, who has this incredible desire to put the poorest people first, “says Etienne Villemain.” We feel more fragile and tired than last time, in Assisi, but still accessible, when it comes to meeting the most vulnerable, “he continues.

After giving his speech, Pope Francis greeted everyone who came to listen to him. “There were with us members of Apprentis d’Auteuil, Aux captifs la libération or the Order of Malta … Some arrived last night by bus, are tired … But it’s a party! Everyone mixes! excited Bénédicte Laroussinie from Village de François.

“We think the church is just a blanket of dead leaves,” blows Mgr. Michel Aupetit, Archbishop Emeritus of Paris, on his side, who spends a few weeks in the village of François. “But under the leaves hides a blanket of snowdrops … All this fills me with hope!”, He emphasizes. After singing Charles de Foucauld’s prayer for abandonment on the eve of his canonization, the delegation left the Apostolic Palace to join to the Vatican Gardens for a guided tour by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop Emeritus of Lyon Tomorrow, the entire delegation will attend the ten canonizations in St. Peter’s Square.

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