CARTAGENA, Colombia- After delivering more than 10 speeches, visiting an orphanage, leading prayers of reconciliation in a country devastated by conflict, celebrating Masses before vast crowds, and meeting politicians, social elites, and bishops alike, Pope Francis closed his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia surrounded by those he loves the most: The poorest of the poor, including young women who are recovering victims of human trafficking.
Among other things, Francis told them that God teaches through the example of the humble and discarded. He also vigorously lamented that today, as in the 1500s, human beings are being traded as slaves.
Speaking at his traditional Sunday Angelus address, which he usually delivers from a window overlooking Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, the pope focused on Our Lady of Chiquinquirá and Jesuit St. Peter Claver, both patrons of Colombia.
According to tradition, it was a humble woman by the name of Maria Ramos who first venerated the famous Colombian image of the Virgin, which appeared on a piece of discarded cloth.
“She had the courage and faith to put this blurred and torn fabric in a special place, restoring its lost dignity,” Francis said.
The image was brought to Colombia from Spain in 1560, and was painted in tempera over cotton woven by the Indians. In time, humidity, air and sun damaged the painting to the point that the image was no longer visible. In 1577, it was moved to Chiquinquirá, and left abandoned in a room that had formerly been a family oratory.
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