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Pope Francis sends Easter message to Philippines to mark 500th anniversary of first Mass

Pope Francis has sent a video message to the Philippines to mark the 500 year anniversary of the first Mass on Philippine soil on Easter Sunday.

“Give thanks for the gift of faith. Thank God for the people who have given you faith and for the people to whom you will transmit the faith, renewing the desire to evangelize, to reach others and bring them the hope and joy of the Gospel,” the pope said in the video sent on April 4.

Fr. Pedro de Valderrama offered the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines on Easter Sunday in 1521 on the island of Limasawa. 

The Spanish priest had been a part of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition which first made contact with the Filipino natives on March 28, 1521. Fr. Valderrama also celebrated the first baptism in the Philippines on the island of Cebu on April 14 of the same year. 

Today, the Philippines has the third largest number of Catholics in the world. An estimated 86% of the 108 million population of the Philippines is Catholic.

Pope Francis said in his video message that he has fond memories of his visit to the Philippines in January 2015. The final Mass during the pope’s apostolic trip had the largest crowd for a papal visit in history.

“Dear friends, I remember my visit to your country with great affection. I have not forgotten that final meeting with nearly seven million people. You are generous. You are abundant. You know how to celebrate the faith,” he said.

“The pilgrim people of God in the Philippines” also know what it means to accompany Jesus along the way of the cross, the pope said.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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