May 6 was a joyous day for 242 Roman Catholic children from all over Bulgaria when Pope Francis served them their first communion at a service held in the town of Rakovski.
In the town, which has the largest Roman Catholic community in Bulgaria, a country that otherwise has an Orthodox Christian majority, Pope Francis was given a warm welcome as he travelled in the Popemobile and then smilingly engaged in meet-and-greet with some of the thousands who came to the town to see him.
The Pope told the congregation, including the children: “Today, let us celebrate again, to rejoice in the name of Jesus, because he is present. And that is the miracle that happens only when there are hearts like yours, capable of sharing faith.
“The first sacrament means union with Jesus, the establishment of friendship with him. And the others will see the joy of his love. The Lord has need of you,” Pope Francis said.
“I am delighted to share with you this great moment, that you really experience it. The Lord is our father, the church is our family, we are brothers, and our law is love,” he said.
Pope Francis, beaming, called out to the children: “I am very pleased to see you here to receive the first communion, but I will ask you something – are you happy, that you are receiving your first communion?”
“Yes!” the children shouted in response.
“Is that certain?” he said.
“Yes!” came the reply, even louder.