Vatican City, 11 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's last day in Bolivia began with Holy Mass celebrated in the chapel of the archbishop's residence in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and his offering to Our Lady of Copacabana, patron of Bolivia, of the gifts given to him by President Evo Morales last Wednesday during their meeting in the presidential palace.
“The President of the Nation, in a gesture of warmth, was so kind as to offer me two decorative honours on behalf of the Bolivian people. I thank the Bolivian people for their affection and the president for this courteous gesture. I would like to offer these two decorations to the patron saint of Bolivia, the Mother of this noble nation, so that she may always remember her people and from Bolivia, from the shrine where I would like them to be, that she may remember the Successor of Peter and the whole Church and care for them from Bolivia”.
He then recited the following prayer to the Virgin Mary:
“Mother of the Saviour and Our Mother, Queen of Bolivia, from the heights of your Shrine in Copacabana, heed the prayers and needs of your children, especially the poorest and most abandoned, and protect them. Receive as a gift from the heart of Bolivia and as a token of my filial affection these symbols of closeness and warmth that President Evo Morales Ayma has bestowed on me with cordial and generous affection, on behalf of the Bolivian people, on the occasion of this apostolic trip, which I entrusted to your solicitous intercession.
“I pray that these honours, which I leave here in Bolivia at your feet, and which recall the noble flight of the condor in the skies of the Andes and the honoured sacrifice of Fr. Luis Espinal, S.J., may be emblems of the everlasting love and persistent gratitude of the Bolivian people for your solicitous and intense tenderness.
At this moment, Mother, I place in your heart my prayers for all the many petitions of your children, which I have received in these days: I beg you to hear them; to give them your encouragement and protection, and to show to the whole of Bolivia your tenderness as a woman and as Mother of God, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen”.