Pope Francis wished the Jewish community of Rome a happy Passover on Thursday and asked the chief rabbi to pray for him.
In a message addressed to Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, Pope Francis sent his “most heartful wishes for the feast of Passover,” referring to the Jews as God’s “beloved people.”
The Catholic leader also said he was praying for Di Segni, and asked the chief rabbi to do the same for him.
Pope Francis met with Di Segni in January, when he visited Rome’s Great Synagogue, his first official visit to a Jewish place of worship.
Read the full message below:
To the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Doctor Riccardo Di Segni,
In remembering with renewed gratitude our meeting on 17th January, when I was cordially welcomed by you and by the Jewish Community of the city in the Great Synagogue, I wish to express my most heartfelt wishes for the feast of Passover. It points out that the Almighty has released his beloved people from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land . May God also accompany you today with the abundance of his Blessings, protect your community and, in His mercy, bestow peace upon everyone. I ask you to pray for me, as I assure you of my prayers for you: may the Almighty allow us to be able to grow more and more in friendship.
Franciscus, PP.21st April 2016.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.