THE HOLY FATHER JOHN
Thursday, 14 December 2000
1. In extending my cordial welcome to each of you, I am pleased to express my sincere gratitude for this visit, which seals in a way the long and complicated restoration work and the new lighting system for the Vatican Necropolis, which has taken almost two years.
I especially thank ENEL for having wished to include this outstanding complex in the project "Light for Art", which planned over 100 projects for some of the most important Italian monuments, including the 14 cathedrals of the best known cities of Tuscany.
I am likewise grateful to the Fabric of St Peter for the expertise of its administrators, its specialized technicians and skilled workers. The Vatican Necropolis, which the presence of the Apostle Peter's tomb makes in a sense the religious heart of Rome, shines now with new beauty. The results achieved have been stabilized thanks to a climate-control system and a modern lighting system to illuminate the tomb of Peter and the burial chambers located under the Vatican Basilica. In this way pilgrims and visitors are offered an almost tangible view of the Gospel's early presence in the capital of the Roman Empire and the fruits of holiness it produced.
I would also like to thank you for giving me a precious book in which, beginning with his tomb, you recount the earthly life of the Prince of the Apostles, illustrating his image and memory on the basis of New Testament writings and the rich iconography of the various historical periods.
The closeness of Christmas gives me the opportunity to extend to you and your loved ones my fervent best wishes, which include a special Blessing as a pledge of divine assistance and of everything good you desire.
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