Pope Francis poses March 26 in Clementine Hall at the Vatican with Italian state police who work in the General Inspectorate for Public Security. The pope thanked the officers for their service and praised their personal sacrifice in protecting others. CNS photo/Vatican Media

Like St. Joseph, police protect pilgrims from danger, Pope says

  • March 26, 2018

VATICAN – Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the men and women who work day in and day out protecting him and millions of pilgrims who visit St. Peter's Basilica each year.

Meeting March 26 with Italian state police who work in the Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican, the Pope departed from his prepared remarks and praised their personal sacrifice in protecting others.

Their dedication, he said, reminded him of the example of St. Joseph, who displayed the same personal responsibility in protecting Jesus.

"The word that always comes to mind for these people who sacrifice themselves is 'watch over,'" the Pope said. "Not only to watch over the Pope, but also the people so that there won't be some crazy person who might cause a massacre and ruin so many families. And reflecting on that word 'watch over' reminded me of Jesus' guardian."

In his off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope said he knew the officers spend long hours protecting others instead of spending time with their families.

"Sometimes, I am sad when I go out and see that you are there working (and I think to myself), 'These people should be in their homes, with their loved ones,'" he said. "But instead you work there to protect the people, to protect me. I don't know how to thank you."

Pope Francis also commended "all those who watch over" pilgrims, and jokingly said those who ride motorcycles "have a secured a job after retirement."

"They can find a job in the circus and perform because they have amazing balance," he said.

Pope Francis gave Maria Rosaria Maiorino, director of the Inspectorate, a statue of St. Joseph as a token of appreciation for their work and personal sacrifice.

"It's a gift from the heart," the Pope said. "Through this, I would like to express my gratitude."

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