ROME – In a video message published several months ahead of his upcoming trip to Peru, scheduled for January 2018, Pope Francis has asked the country to work for unity, imitating the “many and great saints” the country has, women and men who have “shaped Latin America.”
“Dear Peruvian brothers and sisters, I will soon be visiting you. I really want to go,” Francis said in the video, filmed at the Santa Marta residence within Vatican grounds where he lives, and shared by Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, the national capital, through the diocesan website.
Francis’s trip to Peru will also take him to Chile, on Jan. 15-21, 2018.
“You are a people that has a great reserve. The most beautiful reserve that a country can have is that of its saints,” the pope says in the video, dated August 5. These saints, Francis said, without naming any in particular, helped build the church. “Meaning, from dispersion to unity.”
A saint, the pope says in the video, always works towards unity, because it’s what Jesus did.
“This is a path that a Christian must follow. So why not a Peruvian?” he asked.
Those who work for unity, the pontiff continued, can look ahead with “skepticism and bitterness,” but not a Christian, who’s called to look forth “with hope. Because he hopes to accomplish what the Lord promised.”
Though Francis didn’t refer to any saint in particular, Peru is the home of two of the most beloved American saints: St. Rose of Lima, the first person born in the Americas to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church, and St. Martín de Porres, whose image is seen in the video next to the pope.
St. Rose, born in Lima in 1586, died in 1617. She wanted to be a nun, but when her father forbid it, she became a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. She is the patroness of Peru and the indigenous natives of Latin America. She’s so highly regarded in Peru that her image is featured on the highest denomination banknote of Peru. She was declared a saint in 1671, and many biographers claim that at the time of her death, the city smelled like roses.
Porres, born in Lima in 1579 and who died in 1639, was a lay brother of the Dominican Order, declared a saint by Pope John XXIII in 1962. He’s venerated as the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony. He was noted for work on behalf of the poor, led an austere lifestyle, and had many miracles attributed to him, including levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and an ability to communicate with animals.
Though he’s expected to visit three cities in each country, a detailed program for Francis’s pastoral visit to Chile and Peru hasn’t yet been announced. In Peru, he’ll visit Lima, the capital, but also Trujillo, a city that earlier this year was devastated by landslides and heavy rains, which killed close to 100 people and left thousands without a home, and Puerto Maldonado. In Chile, visiting Santiago, Temuco and Iquique.
This will be Pope Francis’s sixth visit to Latin America, after he travels to Colombia in September. These are the only two foreign trips the Vatican has announced officially on the pope’s upcoming calendar, but Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, of Bangladesh, told Crux on July 28 that a trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh is being considered for late November.