Pope Francis met with a group of the Poor Clares’ Convent of St. Clare of Paganica, outside the Italian city of L’Aquila on Monday.
The Holy Father thanked the group for their prayers and for the gift of the Easter Candle that they decorated for the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta.
He told them that their spiritual presence is always felt at the Chapel through their gift of “the symbol of Christ, the light of the world.”
Pope Francis recalled the 2009 earthquake that struck L’Aquila, injuring a number of nuns and destroying the convent.
He particularly remembered Abbess Mother Gemma Antonucci, who died after being trapped under rubble.
In spite of that, the Pope noted, “God made you emerge from that tragedy strengthened and, like the grain of wheat that must die in order to bear fruit, so it was also for your monastic community.”
“You experienced great pain, but also the loving care of your heavenly Father and the solidarity of many people,” he said.
He said that on that night, the nuns lost all they had in their possession, “except God and fraternity”.
From that point they embarked on a journey to rebuild their lives “establishing themselves first in a temporary structure, before reconstructing the monastery ten years after.”
Now, he said, “your community is flourishing, composed of twelve nuns, all young.” Pope Francis added that, in the face of tragedy, the message the nuns have given is to “start afresh from God and from fraternal solidarity.”
Pope Francis urged the nuns to continue praying for all those who were affected by the earthquake.
"May the example of Blessed Antonia help you always to be poor and joyful women for love of the poor Christ," the Pope prayed.