Lampedusa is to where thousands of refugees from Tunisia and elsewhere in Africa arrive every year seeking a better life in Italy and in the rest of Europe. (Three months after this Mass, a boat carrying refugees from North Africa capsized in the area, killing most of its 500 passengers.)
At the Mass, the pope stood behind a small boat and said prayers for the unknown number of refugees who had arrived over the years, and for the unknown number of refugees who had perished on the journey.
Also on the dais was flotsam from shipwrecks – boats that were supposed to lead the refugees to a better life, but led to a gruesome death. The pastoral staff was made from the wood of boats used by migrants to make the crossing.
The white and blue colours in Roman Catholicism symbolise purity, virginity, innocence, virtue, holiness and grace. The Virgin Mary is often depicted wearing white and blue clothing, but for this cross, the colours have an additional purpose.
Boats that are used to smuggle refugees are often painted white and blue as camouflage to avoid detection by the Italian coast guard, whose job it is to detect people trying to enter the country illegally. (If the boats were painted orange perhaps fewer would die.)
Swimming towards the central red heart of the cross are two fish, carved on the horizontal arms, while five loaves are engraved on the shaft. These depict the miracle Jesus performed with the loaves and fish.
In the same passage of the Gospel we read again the virtue of sharing that allows the multiplication from the little that you have with those in the community, whether they are known to you, strangers or immigrants.
The heart in the centre of the cross reminds us that love and charity is central to the Christian faith and must be part of our everyday life.
And the wave?
No, the wave is neither a hip hop arm wave nor a trigonometric sine wave. Calling this a Wavy Cross is more than simply describing the shape of the cross bar, and more than just describing the sea waves that terrorised migrants in their overcrowded and poorly maintained boats as they cross the Mediterranean Sea.
The Wavy Cross can be said to symbolise the water of baptism, and the fish represent the faithful, swimming towards the central heart, which represents Jesus.
This Pastoral Staff measures 1.80 cm x 29 cm with a slightly curved shaft.
Vatican video of the Mass www.radiovaticana.va/...