VATICAN CITY (TheBlaze/AP) — Two doves owe their freedom, including a soaring flight over St. Peter’s Square, to Pope Francis. Appearing before an audience on Wednesday, the leader of the Catholic Church spoke explicitly about the Holy Spirit, making the use of doves a fitting inclusion.
The birds are well-known symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith. Vatican Radio has more about Francis’ message that accompanied the release of the doves:
In preparation for the Feast of Pentecost and in the context of the Year of Faith catechesis on the Creed, Pope Francis dedicated his Wednesday audience to the action that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us, in guiding us to the Truth.
He said “In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism, steadily approaching the Sacraments. But at the same time let us ask ourselves what steps we are taking so that the faith directs our whole existence. Do not be a ‘part-time” Christian, at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain choices, be Christian at all times! The truth of Christ, that the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us, always and forever involves our daily lives. Let us invoke him more often, to guide us on the path of Christ’s disciples”.
As he toured the square in his open-topped popemobile at his Wednesday audience with the public, someone at the edge of the crowd thrust a white bird cage with two doves inside at him. Looking puzzled, his security detail took the cage and handed it to Francis.
Without hesitation, the pope opened the cage door, thrust a hand inside, extracted one dove and sent it to fly over the square. Francis struggled to remove the other bird, whose feathers got caught in the cage bars. It sat for a while on his hand, before it too flew off.
It’s unclear if Francis knew about the doves beforehand, but Vatican radio reports that they were presented to him by pilgrims.