Pope Francis has sent a special blessing to mark the 70th anniversary of one of Scotland’s most unusual landmarks. The Italian Chapel in Orkney was built during the Second World War by Italian POWs and has since become the island’s number one tourist attraction. In his message, Pope Francis prays; “that this Chapel, built in time of war, may continue to be a sign of peace and reconciliation”
The magnificent interior, created with scraps of wood and metal and paints provided by an enlightened camp commandant turned the Nissan huts into a tiny basilica-style space filled with light and images of angels and the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Regina Pacis – Queen of Peace. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the departure of the Italian prisoners from Orkney.
On Sunday (18 May) a special Mass will be held in the tiny chapel, celebrated by
the Papal Ambassador (Nuncio) to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini and
former Glasgow Archbishop Mario Conti.
The Nuncio will read the text of Pope Francis’s message at the Mass. The full
text of the Pope’s message is shown below.
HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS presents His special greetings to His Excellency, Mario Conti, Archbishop-Emeritus of Glasgow, and to all those persons who are participating
in the celebrations on Sunday, 18th May 2014 in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Chapel, built by Italian Prisoners of War on the Island of Lambsholm, Orkney, during the perilous days of the Second World War.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis reminds us in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii
Gaudium: “Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced. But if we remain trapped in conflict, we lose our perspective, our horizons shrink and reality itself begins to fall apart. In the midst of conflict, we lose our sense of the profound unity of reality… the best way to deal with conflict… is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make a link in the chain of a new process. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ (Mt. 5:9)”. (E.G.
His Holiness prays that this Chapel, built in time of war, may continue to be a sign of peace and reconciliation to all those persons who work for the God given dignity of each and every human person and he imparts to all those who participate in this Pilgrimage a special Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant graces from heaven while placing them under the protection of Our Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of Peace.
Archbishop Antonio Mennini