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Pope treated to ceremony at Vatican to usher in Chinese New Year

Pope Francis meets with members of the National Federation Italy-China and praises efforts to foster cultural dialogue
Pope Francis greets artistic performers in the audience.

Pope Francis greets artistic performers in the audience. (Photo: Vatican Media)

Published: February 03, 2024 04:34 AM GMT
Updated: February 03, 2024 04:36 AM GMT

Pope Francis "dotted the eyes" of performers dressed as a dragon and lion in a traditional ceremony to symbolically awaken them and welcome in the Chinese New Year.

He complimented the performers for "this fine art" and thanked them for their thoughtfulness during an audience at the Vatican Feb. 2 with a delegation from the National Federation Italy-China and the Chinese Martial Arts Academy of Vercelli in northern Italy.

"I extend to all of you a warm welcome and I thank you for your visit" to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the federation -- a non-profit cultural association promoting solidarity and friendship between Italy and China -- and to prepare for the Chinese New Year, which begins Feb. 10 and ushers in a year of the dragon.

He expressed his appreciation for the group's efforts in fostering dialogue "and seeking to respond to the challenges posed by cultural integration, education and the promotion of shared social values." When "Italian and Chinese communities come to know each other better, this can lead to greater mutual acceptance and fraternal spirit."

The traditional Chinese dances, which the performers exhibited for the pope, "express the hope that the New Year will be prosperous and productive," he said. The performance included having the pope paint the eyes of the dragon with red paint to symbolically bring it to life.

In his greeting to the acrobats, he recognized their skill in "spectacular and even extremely risky feats of daring." He encouraged all of them "to keep taking risks on the path of dialogue, and in this way to become 'acrobats of peace and fraternity.'"

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Fostering dialogue among people of goodwill is a win-win situation.
Asian Bishops
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UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
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