A Living and Fruitful Root: Consecration of an Altar at Santa Maria la Antigua

by Pope Francis, appearing in Volume 35

Pope Francis traveled to Panama in January 2019 for World Youth Day. During his visit, the Holy Father consecrated a new altar in the renovated Cathedral of Santa Maria la Antigua in Panama City. The following is an excerpt from the homily of the dedication mass.

Credit: Grzegorz Galazka via AGE Fotostock

Photo: Grzegorz Galazka via AGE Fotostock

For me it is no small thing that this cathedral now reopens its doors after a lengthy renovation. It has experienced the passage of the years as a faithful witness of the history of this people, and now with the help and work of many it wants once more to show us its beauty. More than a formal restoration, which always attempts to reproduce the original appearance, this restoration has sought to preserve the beauty of the past while making room for all the newness of the present. A Spanish, Indian and Afro-American cathedral thus becomes a Panamanian cathedral, belonging both to past generations and to those of today who made it possible. It no longer belongs only to the past, but it is a thing of beauty for the present.

Today it is once more a place of peace, that encourages us to renew and nurture our hope, to discover how yesterday’s beauty becomes a basis for creating the beauty of tomorrow.

That is how the Lord works.


Brothers and sisters, may we not allow ourselves to be robbed of the beauty we have inherited from our ancestors. May it be a living and fruitful root that will help us continue to make beautiful and prophetic the history of salvation in these lands.